Disgraced former Waikato District Health Board boss Dr Nigel Murray's unjustified spending of taxpayer money is not reflective of all DHB chief executives, the senior doctors' union says.

Association of Salaried Medical Specialists executive director Ian Powell said Health Minister Dr David Clark was right to put the country's public hospital managers on notice about their spending.

Yesterday Clark said he expected district health boards to be acutely aware of the need for proper oversight and control of executive expenses following the release of the State Services Commission inquiry into Murray's spending.

It found that more than half of the former chief executive's expenditure on travel and accommodation was unjustified.

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"The public rightly expect DHBs leaders to be careful stewards of health funding, and so do I," Clark said.

"Health funding should be used for health care and prevention. There needs to be clear justification for spending on travel and related costs."

But while he agreed, Powell said it was also important not to over-react and "go down a path of micro-management".

The SSC report found Murray spent of $120,000 of taxpayer money on travel and accommodation during his three years as CEO at Waikato DHB.

"What happened in Waikato is absolutely disgraceful but it was an extraordinary situation, a bit of a perfect storm, and certainly not typical in my experience of other DHBs or chief executives," Powell said.

"I've had my differences with chief executives over the years, some of them quite sharp, but I believe none of them would have behaved inappropriately over their expenses and they shouldn't be tarnished by Murray's scandalous actions."

Association of Salaried Medical Specialists executive director Ian Powell doesn't want DHBs micro-managed after the expenses debacle at Waikato District Health Board. Photo / File
Association of Salaried Medical Specialists executive director Ian Powell doesn't want DHBs micro-managed after the expenses debacle at Waikato District Health Board. Photo / File

He pointed out the SSC report was not critical of Waikato DHB's policies and practices, but rather the abuse of them, and the failure to correctly follow them.

"That's an important distinction. What we had in Waikato was the combination of a chief executive impervious to accountability and a board chair [Bob Simcock] who did not do his full diligence during Nigel Murray's recruitment processes."

Powell was one of several who warned former chairman Simcock not to hire Murray in mid-2014 over the former army major's leadership style.

"There was plenty of evidence prior to appointing Nigel Murray to suggest there had been a parting of the ways with his previous employer.

"It's particularly unfortunate that the former board chair, Bob Simcock, is now blaming everyone but himself, including the DHB's accounts staff. This shows a lack of insight and accountability, and he really needs to take a good hard look in the mirror.

"It's also important to remember that this debacle has had a serious effect on the morale of staff working at the DHB, many of them on the front line of providing clinical care to patients."

Former Waikato DHB chief executive Dr Nigel Murray, centre, and former chair Bob Simcock (right). Photo / Christine Cornege
Former Waikato DHB chief executive Dr Nigel Murray, centre, and former chair Bob Simcock (right). Photo / Christine Cornege

He said the DHB's current senior leaders and managers now have the difficult task of rebuilding trust within the organisation.

Powell said it was right for Clark to warn senior leaders to be accountable for their expenditure on the taxpayers' purse, but it would be counter-productive to micro-manage every aspect of their future spending.

Meanwhile acting board chairwoman Sally Webb praised the DHB staff who raised the alarm over Murray's expenses, saying if not for them, the situation could still be continuing.

The State Services Commission inquiry report found there was a culture of intimidation at Waikato DHB and Webb said it was courageous of the staff to blow the whistle on their boss.