Canon David Morrell: “The Government must move decisively, and not by handing the problem to the Ministry of Health – it would appear far too likely to have created it.”

Canon David Morrell is a former Christchurch City Missioner and a Canon of the Anglican Diocese of Christchurch. He was an elected member of the Canterbury District Health Board from its inception in 2001 until last year’s CDHB elections – sitting for a total of 18 years. His commentary on the Health Board issues appears in The Press website today. The summary of his commentary is that the Ministry of Health was compelled to negotiate with CDHB to resolve differences – until someone saw an opportunity in the Health Board elections to exploit a power vacuum and, essentially, revert to the previous adversarial position. Evidently, bureaucratic empire building is dominating.

This means that deputy National Party leader Gerry Brownlee and clinicians Dr Phil Bagshaw, Gary Nicholls and Stuart Gowland are correct in calling for an inquiry into the historically adverse relationship between the Ministry and CDHB. Until the Government is willing to address that, and back off its current process of backing the Ministry, we are not going to see an improvement in this situation. The Ministry has become too bureaucratic and too powerful and the politicians in Wellington are too willing to pass the buck onto officials as a convenient way of keeping a lid on politically heated issues. We reiterate our concerns about the inability of the Government to formulate and promulgate substantive policy in health or a number of policy areas.