sign up log in
Want to go ad-free? Find out how, here.

Heather Simpson and Brian Roche to lead new group to provide oversight of the Ministry of Health; Govt to deploy an additional 500 Defence Force staff to border; Gets rid of some private security staff

Heather Simpson and Brian Roche to lead new group to provide oversight of the Ministry of Health; Govt to deploy an additional 500 Defence Force staff to border; Gets rid of some private security staff

Helen Clark’s former top adviser, Heather Simpson, is being brought in to lead a new group that will support the Ministry of Health as it ramps up testing at the border.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced the formation of the group as it has come to light testing rates of staff at managed isolation/quarantine facilities, airports and ports were much lower than government ministers said they thought they were.

Simpson recently led a major review of the country’s health system.

She will be supported by Brian Roche, who has done a review of contact tracing. The other members of the group will be confirmed on Friday. It will include public sector and health expertise.

Director General of Health Ashley Bloomfield denied the formation of the group was a “vote of no confidence” in the Ministry of Health.

Ardern pointed out the testing regime cuts across a number of agencies.

Separately, Ardern announced the Government will deploy an extra 500 Defence Force staff to managed isolation/quarantine facilities and to the maritime border.

The deployment will be rolled out over the next six weeks as the Government intends to stop using private security guards, particularly at high-risk areas.

Looking ahead, private security guards will be hired directly by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE). The aim is to improve accountability of these workers.

Ardern said the decision to do so was made “some time ago”.

The change will see the number of Defence Force staff involved in the operation increase to 1200.

Ardern couldn’t say how many private security guards would lose their jobs and/or be employed directly by MBIE.

She said it was "unrealistic" to expect the border system to be 100% perfect as no system is "foolproof".

We welcome your comments below. If you are not already registered, please register to comment.

Remember we welcome robust, respectful and insightful debate. We don't welcome abusive or defamatory comments and will de-register those repeatedly making such comments. Our current comment policy is here.

48 Comments

HC2... Job for the old boy/girl

Up
0

Heh. Time for the Iron Fist of H2, instead of the clearly woeful Woods/Hipkins/Webb fustercluck....Why, soon there will be Actual Numerical Targets for at-risk personages tested. About time......

Up
0

Of course it is a vote of no confidence in the MOH. There are plenty of DHBs with occasion to second that vote. The real point is the emperor has been fiddling to those that are deaf to anything other than their own tune. Should have woken up to the fact that the MOH Wellington hierarchy had no idea about operational matters when it was revealed the rest homes had been left wide open, first time round.

Up
0

“Female leaders locked down earlier and suffered half as many Covid-19 deaths compared to male leaders, a new study has revealed.

The relative early success of leaders such as New Zealand’s Jacinda Ardern, Germany’s Angela Merkel, Taiwan’s Tsai Ing-wen and Denmark’s Mette Frederiksen has attracted significant attention in the media, but there has been little academic evidence to suggest that female leaders have decisively handled the pandemic better than men until now.“

I

Up
0

Trans leaders have done way better - not a single case in countries they lead.

Up
0

The saintly Dr Bloomfield, while projecting a calm demeanour-which has been useful- is behind that façade, the head of a deeply dysfunctional Ministry of Health. he is actually part of the problem, not the solution.
When this is over, it needs to taken apart and put together under new leadership. Bloomfield can then be put out to grass.

Up
0

the whole system needs to be pulled apart and put back together
why do we have three DHB's in auckland? case in point we have 1 person in a ward at auckland and 4 people in a ward at middlemore so we put two lots of doctors and nurses at risk, why dont they all work together and have 1 ward ready to go for all covid cases in the auckland region with the low numbers we have at the moment
we have one quarantine facility for the whole of the north island but we cant get one ward together for auckland let alone the north island
14% of all healthworkers in melbourne have caught the virus so why add risk

Up
0

Labour received a review of the DHBs in this country that recommends reducing the current 20 down to between 8 and 12.

National has promised they want to keep all 20 DHBs.

Up
0

Therein lies a good question. If the DHBs are reduced in number, which is an understandable prospect given the criticism of the status quo, does that then mean more centralisation of authority over operational functions, remotely from Wellington. And if we look at MOH’s foray into control and management of CV19, both preparation and performance, it hardly would inspire confidence in that regard. Could it be that the recognised disengagement(s) between MOH HO and the DHBs, for instance Canterbury where the five senior managers have recently surrendered and resigned, has its root cause in the dictates and implausibilities issuing from Wellington. Could it be that Wellington does neither understand nor concern itself with what actually happens at the coal face. Is the rub mostly that of academics overriding clinicians. Seems to me the sheer incompetence of their authoritarian handling of CV19 exposes that starkly. For instance first time round, why were the rest homes allowed, even instructed to, stay wide open.

Up
0

FG. Your 'implausibilities' presumably include the national population needs based modelling used by MoH to determine DHB funding requirements and which drive the much criticised operating 'deficits'. It is no secret in Canterbury that the model base assumptions are strongly disputed by CDHB executives and clinicians who consider some to be significantly flawed. These are serious people and that 5 top staffers have resigned is telling. The usual spin about 'pursuing other opportunities' is forthcoming but people close to the action down there have a darker story to tell. Hipkins needs to personally intervene and quickly but as with all of Ardern's cabinet he is over stretched due to lack of available CoL talent.

Up
0

So Labour are intending on implementing the recommended changes?

Up
0

Previous minister but I doubt they'd have changed their view: https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=12340335

Up
0

Hope so, otherwise the review was another waste of public resource

Up
0

Let's get ACT on it instead and create a Super Ministry with super efficiencies, like we did with Auckland Council.

Up
0

Should have predicted that Labour acolytes would take over the Super City and oversee it become a bloated mess? Yes, they probably should have seem that one coming.

Up
0

Or maybe it was a poorly thought out idea from ACT? Nah, can't have been...

Up
0

Yes, surely that was the problem. Must be. That would explain John Banks' failure to achieve efficiencies too, that raving lefty loony.

Couldn't be just a bad idea, or a lack of local council competition. Competition, phht!

Up
0

If your ilk would stop making MoH a political football - it might have better staff retention going forward. Goodness me, if it is not patently clear to you that we have been so much better served by Dr. Bloomfield than the US have been with Dr. Fauci. I'll take our expert anyday!!!!

Up
0

No Kate. It's not about Bloomfield who is relatively new there. But the MoH has been a very large Wellington Zombie for decades.
As for blaming us common taters for poor staffing at MoH. Really odd idea.

Up
0

The commentator I was addressing directly criticized Bloomfield, so for them, it was about his leadership.

Not sure about your "Wellington Zombie" claim, but I had read somewhere a few years ago that there had been a high turnover of staff under the previous government. That's not good for institutional memory in any organisation.

Up
0

Kate. First you said it was "your ilk" - now it's "the previous government." Whatever.
As for the "Wellington Zombie" aka the MoH. My comments come from decades of disappointing experience.

Up
0

I think the US problem is more about the poisonous environment in which Fauci is trying to work and the fact thay the scientists aren't being listened to, than about him or his advice.

Up
0

Sure that will have had something to do with it. But in comparison to how our public servants work, I recall being surprised to see Fauci (from very early on) taking interviews with all and sundry news outlet there. The kind of appearances that would be like Bloomfield appearing on the AM Show or Breakfast regularly. That's a very bad idea if you want to keep your messaging clear and coordinated. Very early on the media 'story' became Fauci vs the Administration. What a mess.

Up
0

It's a bit rich to accuse any other "ilk" of using the MoH as a political football when Jacinda and her disciples have been using them as a political pinup for the past six months.

Up
0

Good choice as H2 isn't one to be crossed.

The time for "kindness", hugs and unicorns is over and now is the time to put the fear of god into these MoH managers.

Up
0

Reading between the lines of today's announcements, I suspect that the issue is not just within or between the MoH and DHBs, as much as between the health sector and all the other jurisdictions that they are having to work across. Each of the private airport and port companies will have their own hierarchy and chain of command, as will Customs, MAF and all the other govt. agencies involved at those border locations. I suspect the unprecedented times are creating headaches for all staff in all of those agencies about who has jurisidiction, whose advice gets listened to, whose instruction has priority. Good to see it being recognised and addressed though!

Up
0

In the Herald, the first 9 days of lockdown were illegal, I am totally disgusted with these so called lawyers, they are a disgrace to their profession, what is it they donot understand? This virus is not human, it KILLS people and it affects all ages, some people, including young people have been permanently maimed for life. Wait till one of their family catches COV-19, maybe a loved one or their children is terribly or permanently maimed for life. The Virus has no regard for human rights and cannot be reasoned with.

Up
0

There was ample warming for two months prior to lockdown that Labour failed to respond to and use for planning and preparation. No one is to blame for their failing but themselves (failing to plan is planning to fail).

Up
0

Actually if you read what Bloomfield said, they were considering some sort of national lockdown but it accelerated from "2 weeks away" to "do it today, now".

Up
0

They were not illegal. They were unlawful.

Illegal means that it is forbidden by a law that has been passed. Unlawful means that it is not authorised by law because no such law has been passed.

Up
0

it KILLS people and it affects all ages, some people, including young people have been permanently maimed for life.

What a load of hysterical codswallop! look at Sweden, very few excess deaths compared with the last few years average. Look at Japan for goodness sake. 0.8 deaths per hundred thousand people in one of the most densely packed places on the planet. Has everyone in New Zealand has gone bananas? While everyone's hyperventilating about the largely imaginary COVID19 threat, the real threat is the damage to the economy caused by overreaction. COVID19.. pfft whatever.. careful all you hypochondriacs not to inhale any oxygen dihydride it might kill you.

Up
0

A largely imaginary 800,000 people have died to date, probably double that by the time it all dies down. Sweden’s economy is as stuffed as anybody else’s. I think it is somewhat naive to think that virtually every country in the world has taken drastic measures unnecessarily. Sweden did take action by the way. Somewhere between our level 1-2, with tougher school and uni closures, and getting the at-risk to self isolate.

Up
0

You ought to consider the bigger picture. https://www.visualcapitalist.com/how-many-people-die-each-day/

Up
0

You completely neglect the down-stream effects of should our health system be over-whelmed with Covid19. This has been well-explained time and time again by insightful commentators like ginger-ninja.

Up
0

What about the health effects of deferring elective surgeries and consultations for life-altering conditions like early stage cancer interventions?

Up
0

or the reduction in life expectancy due to economic recession.

Up
0

Yesterday , Stuff carried an article showing deaths in nz fell in during lockdown.

Up
0

H2 again? Labour so lacking in talent amongst their MPs that they have to wheel out pensioners to do their heavy lifting. Never H1 though, wonder why?

Up
0

The Thrower behind the Prone...or something....

Up
0

under the pseudonym, Marion Ettist.

Up
0

More a case of rocking the cradle ..

Up
0

Winston Peter's suggestion to set up a single Border Protection Force combining immigration, biosecurity, pandemic response, etc under Defence is a great idea. Like the CBPF in the USA. Hope this comes to pass soon.

Up
0

he also wants quarantine facilities attached to armed force bases, which they could do for auckland up behind whenupai plenty of bare land they could buy and build on, and the runway can take international planes if needed.
maybe at this time not a going concern but a good idea for the future,
you could design it to use the accommodation as short term social housing in between when needed. or for other situations, the locations i would pick would be whenupai in auckland , build next to palmerston north airport and christchurch airport and dunedin airport, all have bare land next door and major hospitals nearby, i would incorporate medical facility onsite to handle up to 20 people.
if you go back in NZ history we used to have quarantine islands. its amazing we forgot our history and have not learned the lessons
https://teara.govt.nz/en/nearshore-islands/page-4

Up
0

If you built quarrantine accomodation in factories as relocatable units there would likely be a market for them as holiday accommodation in beach locations in future - something that has been in decline due to rising price of baches, but govt has access to land that public don't

Up
0

The age of rage is strong and understanding of logistical challenges weak. If you dismantled a private business in the way of many commentators here, we would never have so many of our success stories. Many major successes go to ashes after making mistakes, then learn and resurrect. Low ball provocateurs are ten a penny at the mo.

Up
0

National fully behind the privatisation of gov contracting and separation of gov from operating control of ministries brought in in 1980s which was designed to stop gov doing anything “political” that the are elected to do. Plus FHB structure is amatuleur hour. Plus public health underfunded for 35 years. So now gov attempts to pull a lever and FA happens. National as usual wants its cake and eat it. They hate gov intervention in anything and then whine when it consequently does not work

Up
0

No evidence, sorry hysteria blame seekers, to show border staff resp for outbreak. This spoils fun for the Right and media. As Hipkins keeps repeating to deaf ears: there is no guaranteed way of stopping virus until have a vaccine. All you can do is contain cases and reduce risk. Gov like rest of nz public is in this mess because it presented message that we should all flap about virus that is a minor threat to most vulnerable but not to majority.

Up
0

If you work in people facing border role or in MIQ. You must be tested for covid19 every 2 weeks as a condition of your employment. The test will be free and available to be taken at a place that is most convenient for you. When you have the result of the test you will supply it to your manager and it will be recorded in central MOH database. You will also receive a $50 petrol or grocery voucher to compensate you for taking the test. Problem solved. Cost 75k per week approx for 3000 MIQ workers. Chicken feed in the scheme of things.

Up
0