Simcock to take over health board

Last updated 05:00 30/11/2013

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He's been Hamilton's mayor and one of its MPs, a deer farmer and a clinical psychologist. Now Bob Simcock can add Waikato District Health Board chairman to his already-lengthy CV.

Mr Simcock's appointment to the health board was announced yesterday by health minister Tony Ryall.

He replaces Graeme Milne, who stepped down as of the October local body elections, after two terms in the job.

"I was asked if I would be interested some time ago and I said yes, I was," he told the Waikato Times. "I won't say too much more about it than that."

Mr Simcock was also elected to the Waikato Regional Council in October and he has since been given the plum role of chairing that council's statutory and policy committee.

However he did not reckon that the addition of his health board role had put too much on his plate.

"I don't see that at all. I'm used to working pretty hard . . . although I can see I'm going to be pretty busy over the next few weeks at least."

Although he was relishing getting stuck into the job he would be taking a slow and steady approach initially.

"There's a few difficulties clearly. One of them is the A&E system, which has had a few challenges, although there have been recent signals that things are improving there.

"The hospital is frequently full and I would like to take a closer look at why that is. It may be that there will be a need to find new ways of doing things."

Although the health board had been "in the pack" when it came to meeting the Government's much-vaunted health targets, he was mindful its recent results would have been influenced by the massive, ongoing rebuilding programme at Waikato Hospital.

I don't think I'm in the position to make too many comments. I haven't had a chance to have a decent chat with [chief executive] Craig [Climo]. It's obvious though I'm coming into a well-run organisation."

A former St John's College and Waikato University student, Mr Simcock became the MP for Hamilton West in 1996 - ousting Labour's Martin Gallagher.

In the 1999 elections, however, Mr Gallagher regained the seat, and Mr Simcock became a list MP.

The former rivals will be reunited at the health board table - Mr Gallagher has been an elected member of the organisation since 2010.

In the 2002 elections, the National party performed poorly, and did not win enough votes for Mr Simcock to remain in Parliament.

He then stood for and was elected to the Hamilton City Council in 2004 and was appointed deputy mayor that year.

Following Michael Redman's resignation in 2007, he was appointed mayor, and was then elected mayor later that year.

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He lost the 2010 mayoral election when Julie Hardaker swept to power.

- Waikato Times

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