July 26 2017, updated 7:09am

War of words on eve of health report

Last updated 01:15 17/03/2008

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A bitter row over conflicts of interest at Hawke's Bay District Health Board has stepped up as the director-general of health prepares to deliver the results of an inquiry after weeks of legal manoeuvring.

In a series of developments at the weekend:

* Two members of the sacked board have lodged a complaint with police and are questioning the inquiry with claims it has been "hijacked for political expediency".

* Former board chairman Kevin Atkinson disputed former health minister Annette King's claim that they fell out over his plan to make patients stump up for some of the cost of their operations.

* Ms King accused former board members of a smear campaign against her and her husband, former Hawke's Bay hospital chief operating officer Ray Lind, and says she has learnt of plans to step up the attacks on him this week by spreading rumours about affairs.

The fallout is set to continue once the director-general issues the findings of his inquiry today, with National already labelling it a cover-up and saying the process is deeply flawed.

The inquiry started in July after a series of allegations over a community services contract, worth up to $50 million and being bid for by Healthcare NZ.

The company's managing director, Peter Hausmann, was appointed to the DHB by Ms King in 2005.

Ms King's husband went to work for Healthcare New Zealand in 2006.

On February 27, citing a rapidly deteriorating situation at the DHB, including money problems and tensions between the board and staff, new Health Minister David Cunliffe sacked the board and installed a commissioner.

A day later, The Dominion Post was blocked by the High Court from publishing the contents of a draft report prepared by the director-general's review panel.

Mr Cunliffe, who, according to a spokesman, had not seen the report by late yesterday afternoon, will unveil it today and is expected to respond afterwards.

Two former board members, Diana Kirton and Helen Walker, confirmed yesterday that they had lodged a complaint with police and said they had the backing of other former board members.

Mrs Kirton and Mrs Walker said they had no faith in the report and believed there were sufficient grounds for an investigation into the actions of Mr Hausmann regarding a contract for training of caregivers.

Mr Hausmann said the police complaint was farcical and a waste of time.

"In my view, these are the actions of desperate people in an attempt to further discredit the director-general's report before it is released."

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Meanwhile, Mr Atkinson hit back at comments by Ms King that she had lost some confidence in him over a proposal to part-charge patients for operations.

Mr Atkinson told The Dominion Post he had a letter written in 2002 from Ms King in which he said she "supports co-payments and supports my view".

"The entire board and management and minister herself supported it."

But the letter he provided simply noted the proposal and stipulated the need for ministerial approval.

A furious Ms King rejected the claim.

"For God's sake, do you think I ever would have supported such a thing ... I was absolutely staggered and in fact sent a top official to speak to him about it."

She was scathing of the former board and said she believed a lot of information would come out once the review panel had issued its findings.

She was also angry at the way her husband had been targeted and said that was why she had gone public yesterday about rumours of an affair.

"They actually told someone last week this was going to be the next wave of attack against Ray to get to me. That's why I mentioned it. I thought, if that's what they're going to do, I'm getting in first."

- The Dominion Post

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