infectious disease

Pointless lawmaking from nanny-state National


You know a government is tried and in its third term when they start having light bulb and shower head moments. Nanny?National just had one of theirs.

You are allowed to drive?a car and you can have a baby, but apparently you now can?t get a suntan on a bed if you are under 18. ?This kind of fiddling around the edges is exactly what you?d expect of a bunch of wet lefties. Apparently, people under 18 aren?t capable of making informed decisions.

Parliament has passed a bill that makes sunbeds R18 and changes the way serious infectious diseases are managed.

Health Minister Jonathan Coleman says there’s strong evidence that people who use sunbeds increase their risk of melanoma and other skin cancers.

“There is also evidence that children and adolescents are more sensitive to ultra violet,” he said after the bill had passed its final stage.

“This legislation seeks to protect this vulnerable group while balancing the rights of informed adults.”

If only that was true.

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It’s all fun and games until your kids get sick

Following on from the post about Tony abbott’s stance on vaccination is this story from Canada.

Nothing focuses the kind like watching your kids suffer…an anti-vaxxer has found out the hard way about what the consequences are for not vaccinating your children.

A Canadian mother-of-seven has been forced to rethink her anti-vaccination stance ? after all her children fell sick with whooping cough.

North America has seen a growing number of families opt out of immunisation programmes, frequently because they are concerned about side-effects, despite warnings that deadly childhood diseases such as measles are on the rise.

Tara Hills and her husband decided to stop vaccinating their children six years ago after losing faith in the health care system,?according to a blog post in which she described the family’s experience.

“I’m writing this from quarantine, the irony of which isn’t lost on me,” she said.

Although her first three children were immunised – on what she described as an “alternative schedule” – the youngest four received no vaccinations at all.

“I just got scared. I got spooked. I thought, ‘There’s a lot of smoke, there must be fire.’ We stopped vaccinating,” she told CBC News.

Then last month the coughing began. It sounded like a bad cold at first.

“But a week after the symptoms started the kids weren’t improving, in fact they were getting worse,” wrote Mrs Hills. “And the cough. No one had a runny nose or sneezing but they all had the same unproductive cough.”

A trip to the doctor’s surgery was followed by hospital tests, which confirmed whooping cough.

The highly infectious disease takes its name from the characteristic whoop noise that young children make following a cough as they struggle to catch their breath.

[…] ? Read more »

Photo Of The Day

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention outfitted a Gulfstream jet with an isolation pod designed and built by the U.S. Defense Department, the CDC and a private company. The pod, officially called an Aeromedical Biological Containment System, is a portable, tent like device that ensures the flight crew and others on the flight remain safe from an infectious disease.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention outfitted a Gulfstream jet with an isolation pod designed and built by the U.S. Defense Department, the CDC and a private company. The pod, officially called an Aeromedical Biological Containment System, is a portable, tent like device that ensures the flight crew and others on the flight remain safe from an infectious disease.

Ebola Virus

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There is a good chance the zombie apocalypse will start with teachers.

Vice has a post about dealing with an outbreak of infectious disease by target quarantining key groups…like teachers.

In the event of a pandemic outbreak of bird flu or the new MERS virus, public officials might want to look at quarantining children and teachers first?a new study has found that young people and school teachers are prime candidates to spread infection, due to the amount of “social contact” they have each day.

Anyone who has watched chicken pox spread through a classroom may think the study’s findings are just?common sense, but tracking disease as it moves through a population has been tough, especially with highly contagious, airborne infections like the flu.

The study, published in?Proceedings of the Royal Society B, tracked the social interactions of about 5,000 British people. It found that?average person had about 26 hours of contact with other people?per day (when someone was?in close contact with multiple people at once, the time with each person was counted). But some groups had much more contact than the average person, including?children (47 hours), health workers (33 hours), people in the service industry (33 hours),?and teachers (32 hours). ?? Read more »

Peters inquiry: SFO seizes Spencer Trust documents

Peters inquiry: SFO seizes Spencer Trust documentsThe Serious Fraud Office has used its special powers to seize the records of the Spencer Trust as part of its ongoing investigation into New Zealand First donations. SFO investigators took the records away from Whangarei lawyer… [NZ Herald Politics]

Oh dear!, It looks like the Serious Fraud Office aren’t buying the “can be all explained in five minutes” clap-trap being put about by Winston Raymond Peters, 63, List MP of no fixed abode and his criminal lawyer Peter Williams QC.

Every day that goes by will see the tattered and torn reputation of WRP, 63, LMPONFA be shredded further as each and every one of his lies is exposed to the public.

Nipple rings causing problems

Woman says nipple rings fell foul of airport check – 28 Mar 2008 – NZ Herald: World / International News

The Department of Homeland Security must had had an alert of potential hijacker using their nipple rings to slash their way into the cockpit. Why else would snickering male agents violated Transportation Safety Authority policy by forcing her to remove the jewellery.

Allred said the incident began when Hamlin, who has a number of piercings, set off a hand-held metal detector and told a TSA officer that her nipple rings were the problem.

A small group of TSA officers gathered around Hamlin, Allred said, and told her she would have to remove the jewellery from her nipples if she wanted to board her flight.

Hamlin went behind a curtain and removed one of her nipple piercings but could not budge the other, tearfully telling the officers it could not be taken out without pliers, Allred said.

“As Ms. Hamlin struggled to remove the piercing behind the curtain, she could hear a growing number of predominantly male TSA officers snickering in the background,” the attorney said.

Allred said TSA policy called for a pat-down under such circumstances but did not require the piercings to be removed.

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An interesting perspective from Chris Clarke

Chris Clarke the CEO of the HBDHB has been a busy little boy since arriving back from “sick leave”. This is his first missive to staff and I have been forwarded a copy. It has a very interesting perspective on the shenanigans going on at the HBDHB. it is interesting that Mr Clarke seems to know a fair bit about what is going to be the report due to be released. Anyway let his words speak for themselves. here is the email newsletter in total without any edits. As you read this remember that Chris Clarke used to work in Helen Clark’s office.

Greetings, Kia Ora, Talofa Lava, Kia Orana, Malo e Lelei, Fakalofa Lahi Atu, Selamat Pagi, Mabuhay, Guten Tag , Goeie Dag, Dobar Dan, Namaste


It is great to be back and having spent last Thursday with our new Commissioner Sir John Anderson, and his Deputy Brian Roche, I am confident our organisation’s governance is in very good hands and that we will benefit considerably from the experience, wisdom and humanity that they both bring to their roles.

The day started with a very moving powhiri and Sir John spoke of his roots here in Hawke’s Bay. He said his role as Commissioner was not to “slash and burn” but to work with management to build the nation’s best practice DHB. Throughout the day he repeatedly described best practice as a focus on the health of our community, high quality and safe services, empowered staff and a community that has pride in its health services.

Sir John believes that if we are up to the challenge, we need no more than two years to achieve that goal. Brian and he are offering their full support to management to realise that ambition. At the final session of the day they both commented that having spent a day in the DHB – they are confident the DHB does not need to be “fixed”but rather it needs to be “unleashed” to be allowed to move forward. They want us to reaffirm our values especially to work together across organisation and professional boundaries. They also want to see a more agile organisation – faster decision making, less paper, fewer meetings and more action.

They commented that our financial situation is a real concern but from their experience of helping turn around many other organisations, the only way to approach it is to first understand what is driving our finances rather than leaping to quick-fix solutions that often end up compounding the situation. They commented that if we are serious about best practice we have to build a culture of accountability and not blame, we need to focus, we need to be open to new ideas and always committed to doing the right thing no matter what.

Repeatedly Sir John spoke about the importance of leadership, and in particular empowering health professional leadership. He quoted Dr Ian Brown (newly appointed Clinical Monitor at Capital and Coast) who has commented that you get real change when you give the resources and the accountability to health professionals.

Both Sir John and Brian made it very clear that they are not interested in looking back, that the current media furore is a distraction and that all our efforts should be directed towards moving forward.

Folks – change is in the air, the bar has been raised and it’s up to us to rise to the challenge.


One of my early childhood memories is of a Sunday School Teacher who used to encourage us to show concern for others, “for you never know when you will entertain an angel”.

Well in this case it was Commissioners, rather than angels, but the point is the same. On walking into my office Sir John’s opening comment was “Chris you have an organisation to be proud of”. He told me how they had turned up at the front desk of the Hospital asking to see the CEO. He explained that a lovely woman who had no idea who they were, told them to come with her and she walked them across the campus to my office chatting all the way about how she was proud to work for the DHB and what a great place it was.

Thank you ?.. Jacqui Eathorne you did us all proud. Well done and a bouquet of flowers is coming your way from all of us!


Much of the media outcry over the sacking of the Board has focused on the supposed death of democracy. An early priority for the Commissioner is to appoint two additional Assistant Commissioners from Hawke’s Bay. He is also considering what the best Committee structures to support the Commissioners are. He has tasked me with rebuilding community confidence in the DHB and strengthening our consultation processes.


Reading Hawke’s Bay Tabloid and listening to Parliament you would be forgiven for thinking the CEO really got into some dodgy stuff a couple of years ago and then to cover his tracks colluded to roll the Board. Along the way he picked up a free world trip as an inducement to sign a contract and plays fast and hard with the DHB’s money.

To date I have resisted the urge to respond to these increasingly salacious accusations, largely because the Review Report is imminent (publicly released on 17 March) and because I know that by responding it merely prolongs the media attention and we descend into an even more unedifying squabble.

Nonetheless, leadership stands or falls on the integrity and competence of our leaders. If we lose trust in the integrity of our leaders they lose their moral mandate to lead on our behalf.

Therefore, following the release of the Independent Review Report on 17 March I will be doing a series of staff briefings and will happily answer any questions you may have about my alleged involvement in any of these issues.

In the meantime, I have been fielding a lot of questions from staff and others concerned about some of the statements being made in the media this week. While I am not able to comment on a number of issues until after the full report into conflict of interests is released on 17 March, I can respond to some of the misinformation:

A $50 million contract?

There has been a great deal of talk about a $50 million contract, which is at the heart of a lot of the allegations and innuendo. There never was a contract. Instead we ran a RFP process to find one or more strategic partners to work with us to help develop our future planning for community services.

The $342,000 Legal Bill

Yes, the DHB is required to cover costs incurred while the Board were acting in their lawful capacity as Board Members. The $342,000 being discussed last week in the media is part of that cost and was authorised by the Board’s Audit Committee. Any costs incurred by former Board members since they were removed from their positions will not be authorised.

The Ministry of Social Development (MSD) and the DHB did enter into a contract with Wellcare (a subsidiary of Healthcare New Zealand (HCNZ)), to train community care givers. There has been a suggestion that the DHB colluded with Peter Hausmann to award him the contract. The facts are that the MSD chose Wellcare from a number of different providers and the DHB took no part in that decision other than introducing the MSD to Wellcare.

My supposed world trip
Apparently as an inducement to sign a contract with Peter Hausmann, I was offered a free around the world trip – aka “Study Tour”. Again the facts are somewhat less exciting. HCNZ did propose that a team of CEOs and clinicians go on an overseas trip to see developments in community services as it was acknowledged that NZ is well behind other countries in developing home based services. HCNZ’s proposal was for a ‘pay your own trip’, …. and it certainly never happened.

Are there Lessons for Management?
Absolutely, there are lessons for management and I would have been very surprised if there were none, particularly as the areas under review involved working in new ways with other government agencies and with the private sector. I wrote a paper last year on what I thought those lessons were. Here is an extract from that paper.

3.0 The Lessons – so we get it better next time

I see 9 lessons for management:

1. Ethics, Contracting, Probity and Procurement Policies
2. Contracting for Innovations
3. Board Reporting
4. Managing the Governance Boundary
5. Conflict Resolution and Stakeholder Engagement
6. Assisting Board members to identify and manage their conflicts of Interest
7. Integration of Legal Advice
8. Board Policies and Procedures
9. Sharing the Learnings

Other Questions

As always I am happy to answer any of your questions. Until the final report is released I do need to respect the process and avoid pre-empting or compromising the review team’s work. I would, however, find it helpful if you have any questions you want answered to flick me an email. I will start collating them and once the report is released will be happy to answer them through the CEO News and at the Staff Briefings.


The question I am getting asked the most is “what do we say to people who ask us what is going on at the DHB?” My suggestion is that you say we are all looking forward to the release of the Independent Review report on 17 March 2008, that until then we are just getting on with doing what we always do – caring for our community and patients, working together, making a difference in the lives of others and nurturing a passion for learning.

These are our four organisational values and our best retort to any challenges thrown our way.

Thank you all for a great week back. It’s great to be your CEO again.

Kind regards


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