Waikato DHB Responds to SSC Report
Waikato DHB has welcomed the State Services Commission report into unauthorised and unjustified spending by its former
chief executive Dr Nigel Murray. You can read the report here http://www.ssc.govt.nz/waikato-dhb-investigation-findings
Acting chair Sally Webb said the report identified that Dr Murray’s conduct fell well short of that required by a state
sector leader and was completely unacceptable.
“As public servants we have a duty to spend public money wisely and to follow correct policies and procedures when
travelling on DHB business. Clearly Dr Murray routinely breached our DHB policies and let the health board, the Waikato
community and the former chair down very badly.”
She said the report identified that the DHB’s policies and procedures were good but that they weren’t followed and that
Waikato DHB had already put processes in place to ensure its policies were now complied with.
“We’ve taken steps to ensure that this sort of behavior can never happen again at Waikato DHB. Audit NZ reviewed our
processes for expenses, including those of the chief executive, in November last year and made a number of
recommendations that we have already actioned.
“These include communicating the policies regularly to staff and ensuring they understand them, then actively monitoring
that they are complying with these policies. We make sure that the business purpose for travel is clearly set out in the
requests and the appropriate documentation is provided to support the request.
“Chief executive and all executive director expenses are all now reported to the Board monthly and I approve all the
chief executive’s travel requests in advance and they all need to include clear business reasons for travel.”
She said the report identified that the DHB’s recruitment process was good but the reference checks were not thorough
and didn’t include his current employer. “Had they done so, it would have raised a red flag with us.”
She said the report had learnings for all DHBs in how they recruit and manage chief executives, and how they ensure all
expenditure goes through the correct approvals and is use appropriately.
“This is one man, out of a staff of 7,000, who was a bad apple, did not meet the high standards we would expect from a
chief executive and has damaged the reputation of our DHB, but is not indicative of how the many hard working and
committed staff in our organisation behave.”
Ms Webb said the Board made the decision to accept Dr Murray’s immediate resignation and have him pay back all
outstanding money that he owed, rather than sack him, to avoid being faced with further costs and potential lengthy
“We weighed up many factors in coming to this decision but decided the ongoing costs to the organisation not only
financial but also in the amount of time we would spend on this, were outweighed by the need to move on and focus on
delivering health services to our population.
Ms Webb praised the staff who blew the whistle on Dr Murray’s unauthorised spending. “I’m really pleased that the report
acknowledged the courage of DHB staff, who made repeated efforts to bring the issue of overspending and spending outside
policy to Dr Murray’s attention, before escalating their concerns to the chair,” she said.