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Health union boss Ian Powell slams David Clark’s leadership in damning speech

29 July 2019 Natalie Akoorie - New Zealand Herald

A health union boss has unleashed a scathing attack on the Minister of Health, calling his political leadership “fiscally irresponsible” and without vision.

In a speech to the Hospital and Community Dentistry Conference in Napier this morning, Association of Salaried Medical Specialists executive director Ian Powell accused Health Minister Dr David Clark of a “rambling, confused or nonsensical” leadership.

Clark responded after the speech saying the Government “inherited a series of workforce issues that will take time to address”.

“Despite his many years as head of the ASMS, Dr Powell seems to believe long-standing workforce issues can somehow be solved overnight,” Clark said.

Powell, a veteran of the senior doctors’ union of 30 years who is retiring at the end of this year, slated Clark over missed opportunities, district health board deficits, “union-busting” and specialist doctor workforce shortages.

On the severe public hospital shortages, he said about 50 per cent of specialists were suffering high levels of burnout.

“… it is a political crime that the Government and Minister of Health have turned a blind eye to this travesty, displaying a callous disregard to the rights of patients and their whānau and to the wellbeing of the workforce.”

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