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Health trust head quits

By Peter de Graaf

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Outgoing chief executive Garry Ware
Outgoing chief executive Garry Ware

The long-serving chief executive of the Whangaroa Health Services Trust has resigned at short notice.

Garry Ware was replaced on Friday with two trustees appointed to job-share the chief executive position until a permanent replacement is found.

It is understood Mr Ware, who has headed the trust for the past eight years, offered his resignation on Thursday.

Trust chair Brendan Tuohy said Friday was Mr Ware's last day of work. He said all matters between the trust and Mr Ware had been resolved in a satisfactory way, but could not make any other comment - including the reasons for Mr Ware's departure or whether a payout was involved.

Mr Tuohy did say, however, that an investigation of recent election issues was now over.

At a special meeting on Friday trustees voted to appoint barrister Patricia Howitt, a former chief executive of the Deerstalkers Association, and truck driver Paul Cameron as interim chief executive. They would jobshare the role while trustees revised the job description then sought outside expertise in recruiting a permanent replacement.

Ms Howitt is a co-opted trustee while Mr Cameron is the elected representative for the Pupuke ward.

Mr Tuohy said neither took part in the vote and would attend meetings as non-voting members as long as they held the chief executive role. One trustee voted against the appointment.

Mr Ware was controversial earlier in his tenure due to allegations of bullying but his relationship with staff appeared to have improved in recent years. Some staff are said to have signed a letter of support for him.

A Health Ministry audit of the trust earlier this year dismissed or only partially upheld most complaints against the trust. Its only serious finding was of a ''significant conflict of interest'' when the trust chair was appointed to manage a restaurant venture at the Whangaroa Sports Fishing Club. The chair at the time, Jannye Freeman, resigned last year.

The audit found problems with the way trustee elections were held but concluded financial management at the trust, with the exception of the restaurant venture, was sound.

Problems with voting procedures appeared to have been resolved but came to a head again in September when it was alleged a candidate in April's election for a Taupo Bay representative had been wrongly disqualified for living outside the trust boundaries. There had been some disagreement among trustees over where those boundaries lie.

The Whangaroa Health Services Trust operates a resthome, free GP services and two acute care beds at Whangaroa Hospital in Kaeo. Within Northland only Whangaroa and Hokianga offer free GP visits through local health trusts.

A Northland District Health Board review earlier this year proposed closing the resthome and acute beds but the board backtracked after running into stiff opposition.

- NORTHERN ADVOCATE

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