Southern health boss heading to Nelson post

MAIKE VAN DER HEIDE
Last updated 06:48 14/11/2012

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The South Canterbury District Health Board chief executive is moving to the top of the south.

In February, Chris Fleming will start as chief executive of the Nelson Marlborough District Health Board, replacing John Peters who resigned in July after eight years in the role.

Mr Fleming has been chief executive of the South Canterbury health board since 2007.

"I'm quite pleased with the performance of this DHB and I'm ready for a step up," he said yesterday.

At two to three times the size of the South Canterbury DHB, the Nelson Marlborough DHB included the "complexity" of balancing the needs of different communities across Marlborough, Nelson and Tasman who all needed equal access to services, he said.

"I see it as a challenge."

Mr Fleming, whose background is in accounting, knew he would be tackling the board's $5 million deficit posted in the last financial year, totalling 1.25 per cent of its budget.

He planned to go "back to basics" to determine quality, a sustainable workforce, community support and finances.

"Is it going to be easy to find $5 million? No.

"From afar, it's hard to determine where the organisation is at but it's a priority that I understand where they are."

Originally from Palmerston North, Mr Fleming has worked in the health sector both at strategic and operational level for 20 years in the Waikato, Montreal in Canada, Hawke's Bay, South Auckland, Sydney and Timaru.

He is the chairman of the chief executives' South Island alliance leadership team, the lead chief executive for Health of Older People group nationally, the South Island representative on the national DHB executive, and a director of Health Benefits Ltd.

Nelson Marlborough District Health Board chairwoman Jenny Black said Mr Fleming met "all of our requirements regarding health sector experience and clinical and management leadership".

He would be responsible for 139,000 people across the top of the south, the annual budget of $416m, which had an unplanned $5m deficit in the last financial year, and managing 2370 staff.

Mr Fleming will be joined in Nelson by his wife and son, who will be in year 11 at school. His oldest child will remain in the south to start university.

"I think it's been one of those opportunities where the chance to live in a beautiful part of the country and have a challenging job all came together at the same time," Mr Fleming said.

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- The Marlborough Express

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