New health boss: Hospitals can cope with fewer staff

BY KATE NEWTON
Last updated 12:07 14/09/2010
Dr Kevin Woods
EXPERIENCED LEADER: Dr Kevin Woods.

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The Health Ministry's new chief believes it is possible to cut doctor and nurse positions without compromising health services.

Kevin Woods, head of Scotland's National Health Service, will take over as New Zealand's Director-General of Health in early 2011, the State Services Commission announced today.

Dr Woods has headed the NHS in Scotland since 2005.

Earlier this year, he oversaw the axing of 1500 nurse positions in Scotland.

At the time, he was asked by a Scottish Government committee whether it was possible to still provide quality health services with "significantly fewer" doctors and nurses.

"Yes, we believe we can," Dr Woods said.

"We see our pursuit of quality also linked to our policy to improve efficiency. We've invested considerable amounts in equipping the health service with the tools to do that and yes, we do believe we can continue to make progress."

Dr Woods was chosen to head New Zealand's Health Ministry after a lengthy international search.

He replaces Stephen McKernan, who quit the $550,000-a-year-position in March.

"Dr Woods is an experienced chief executive and a very strong leader who has held senior management roles in the health sector in England and Scotland since 1990," State Services Commissioner Iain Rennie said.

"[He] is responsible for a budget of over £11 billion. The NHS in Scotland employs over 150,000 staff through 22 NHS Boards. He has played a leading role in the development of health policy in Scotland and implemented a delivery management system which has helped to secure improved performance by NHS Boards."

Dr Woods has a Doctor of Philosophy and Bachelor of Science (Honours), Geography, from the University of London, and is a Fellow of the Faculty of Public Health.

His term is for three years and will begin in early in 2011. Mr Andrew Bridgman is the Acting Chief Executive currently and has agreed to continue in this role until Dr Woods takes up his position.

Dr Woods said he was delighted to with appointment and was looking forward to moving to New Zealand.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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