Shoo-in for Waikato DHB chief revealed

MIKE MATHER
Last updated 15:10 06/06/2014
Nigel Murray
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IN THE RUNNING: Dr Nigel Murray.

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Former cardiologist and Waikato man Nigel Murray is the confirmed frontrunner for the Waikato District Health Board chief executive's job.

Murray is currently the chief executive and president of Canadian health organisation Fraser Health, and was formerly an interim chief executive of the Southland District Health Board and planning and development manager at the Auckland District Health Board.

Waikato DHB chairman Bob Simcock confirmed to the Waikato Times earlier this afternoon that Murray was the frontrunner out of the 28 applicants who had applied for departing chief executive Craig Climo's job, and the board was due to enter negotiations with him imminently.

''We are in discussions with Nigel Murray MBE ... We have had extensive conversations with people who have worked with him at Southland and Auckland, and in Canada. The responses were universally positive. The general description about him is that he is an outstanding individual and an outstanding leader.''

Simcock said Murray had lived in the Waikato for some years and still had family living here.

''He has always planned to come back here. This opportunity may have advanced those plans by a few years.''

Murray himself was unable to respond to calls and emails from the Times.

His frontrunner status came to light after sources contacted the paper to say he had recently been seen at Waikato Hospital in the company of at least one member of the eight-person selection panel charged with determining Climo's replacement.

Fraser Health is one of Canada's largest health authorities, and is roughly about three times the size of Waikato DHB.

It has a workforce of more than 26,000 people providing health services to a population of about 1.6 million people in the country's south-west.Murray's past is not without controversy.

It was while he was at Southland DHB in 2007 that Murray took a leading role in the DHBs' talks with junior doctors.

Those negotiations became a prolonged labour dispute that ended in settlement following a bitter strike.

If his appointment is confirmed, one of Murray's first jobs will be to respond to a recently published Ministry of Health report that found numerous shortcomings with Waikato DHB, including too many managers, staff kept in the dark, poor communication between departments, and too-slow treatment of patients.

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