One Waikato District Health Board member took a governance course that cost taxpayers $5000 - after the board was sacked.

Crystal Beavis went on the five-day Institute of Directors' course on May 12, five days after Minister of Health David Clark sacked the Waikato District Health Board for high debt and dysfunction.

But Beavis told the Herald on Sunday the company directors course, meant to run in March, was rescheduled to mid-May and when Clark put the board on notice she did not ask for a refund because she thought one would not be available.

She has not offered to pay back the $5000 and said the DHB had not asked her to.


Hamilton councillor to complete governance course costing ratepayers $5200 day before election
Commissioners contemplated for Waikato DHB? Health Minister David Clark tight-lipped
Waikato DHB board facing the sack
Health Minister David Clark sacks board, appoints commissioner for Waikato DHB

"It was above board, it was all approved. It was bona fide."

The Herald reported on April 10 there was speculation the Waikato board could be axed and replaced by commissioners.

Six days later Clark released a statement announcing he was considering sacking the board and told members they had until May 6 to convince him otherwise.

During that time all but two members, Mary Anne Gill and Dave Macpherson - who were not on the board when it hired Dr Nigel Murray as chief executive - offered to resign.

Murray spent $120,000 of taxpayer money on travel and accommodation that was unjustified and unauthorised, and spearheaded a $25 million project for virtual health that was a flop.

Beavis said she received approval to attend the "non-residential" course in November 2018 from then board chairwoman Sally Webb.

"Every year there is an expectation by the Ministry of Health that DHB boards should conduct performance evaluations and consider training needs of board members, and there is a board training budget for this purpose," Beavis said.


She said when the original course was cancelled and she rebooked in February there was no indication the board would be replaced by commissioners.

"When the Minister of Health informed Waikato DHB in April that he was considering appointing a commissioner, no course refund was available."

Her reason for attending the course was to "develop and broaden my governance skills to add value to the Waikato DHB".

At the time of the course Beavis was in her second term having already served five-and-a-half years at Waikato DHB and three years as an Auckland District Health Board member in the early 2000s.

Beavis said the Ministry of Health needed to address a lack of training for board members which she claimed was affecting healthcare delivery.

"My own interest in obtaining further training during my last term on the Waikato DHB was delayed by talk of a ministry initiative to introduce a tailored training programme for board members that never happened."

Good training for DHB members was an important issue given they are multimillion-dollar operations, she said.

When the board was sacked Waikato DHB had one of the largest forecast deficits in the country, at $56m.

Beavis had spent money out of her own pocket to try to upskill herself after receiving only two induction days courtesy of the ministry.

"Accordingly, during my first term on the board, I spent $17,000 of my own money, without board assistance, to undertake the Postgraduate Diploma in Management Studies at Waikato University, graduating with Distinction in 2016.

"I was able to apply my study to help give me a strong insight into DHB operations.

"For example, in part fulfilment of the course, I prepared a report on supply chain management of the DHB's suite of operating theatres. This report has subsequently been turned into a teaching case study and submitted for publication."

Beavis, a long-time public relations specialist with her own company who now works for Hamilton City Council as partnerships and communications manager at Waikato Museum, said she would "continue to look for opportunities to apply the knowledge I have gained for the public good".

"I do hope I can contribute in a meaningful way and I will be seeking ways of doing that."

She had not ruled out standing for the board again. Waikato DHB was not part of the local government elections in October and is still being run by commissioners.