The role of the director who oversees SmartHealth, the failing virtual health app at Waikato District Health Board, and that of the communications director, are being disestablished in a proposed restructure by the interim chief executive.

Under the second executive leadership team restructure proposed by Derek Wright in as many months, the roles of executive director of virtual care and innovation and executive director of public and organisational affairs, currently filled by Darrin Hackett and Lydia Aydon respectively, would be disestablished.

Hackett and Aydon would become directors instead of executive directors and dropped from the team who report directly to the chief executive.

Wright earlier told the Herald the salaries of any executives who were effectively demoted in the restructure would not be affected.


Under the new proposal, released last week, the pair would instead report to a new position, the executive director of the office of the chief executive.

That person would also be in charge of a director of operations and performance, the organisation's corporate solicitor and board matters.

The move, along with other disestablished roles, would reduce the number of direct reports to the chief executive by at least four, trimming the overall number to 13.

Under former CEO Dr Nigel Murray, 17 executive directors reported to him and the entire team cost the organisation $4.6 million in salary in the 2016/17 financial year.

In Wright's consultation document, he said the new position of director of virtual health would report to the new position of the executive director of the chief executive's office until the DHB's review of HealthTap was complete and a future system was in place.

The service would then transfer to the management of the office of the chief medical officer.

The review of HealthTap, the American company that the DHB has a contract with to power the app, is expected to be completed by May when contract negotiations will take place.

This week senior doctors slammed the controversial $18.8m SmartHealth app as an expensive waste of time and money, not fit for purpose, and a mistake the DHB could not afford to repeat.


In February Wright initially proposed to reduce his team by seven but after consultation the updated proposal included several new titles, such as an advisor to the chief executive/director of quality and patient safety.

It also proposed an executive director of human resources which in the past did not exist, a move praised by the union for public service employees.

Public Service Association organiser Daryl Gatenby said members were pleased about the proposal to appoint an executive director of human resources, "with a particular responsibility for changing the workplace culture".

Former Waikato DHB chief executive Dr Nigel Murray restructured his executive leadership team to make it one of the biggest in the country. Photo / Christine Cornege
Former Waikato DHB chief executive Dr Nigel Murray restructured his executive leadership team to make it one of the biggest in the country. Photo / Christine Cornege

Waikato staff have until April 6 to make submissions on the proposal, with a decision to be made on April 30.

Meanwhile Gatenby said Wednesday's apology from Waikato DHB chairwoman Sally Webb for the actions of Murray were a sign of a "long-overdue culture change" at the organisation.

"Under Nigel Murray, the atmosphere at Waikato DHB was anti-worker, anti-union and - we believe - did a lot of damage to the DHB's reputation," Gatenby said.

"Since his ignominious departure, we have seen encouraging signs of change, and this apology is further proof."