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Health workers thank outgoing Dr Ashley Bloomfield

Te Whānau O Waiapareira general manager John Tamihere said the general manager had done a decent job but was uncomfortable with the “idolatry” that had arisen around him.

He had called Bloomfield for the past two years on issues including delays giving Maori health groups autonomy to care for their communities and the department’s initial failure to hand over health data.

It would be petty to criticize Bloomfield on the way out, he said.

He was a highly paid civil servant who had done a decent job, especially for traditional New Zealand, but his notebook was not completely clean, Tamihere said.

“But… Mr. Bloomfield will go down as a great result compared to other nations,” he said.

Pacific health groups had shared concerns that they would not initially be able to lead the response for their communities, which bore the brunt of the first waves of the virus.

GP Api Talemaitoga said while it was frustrating, he and his frontline colleagues weren’t always aware of the situation Bloomfield faced “in terms of the whole country, the ministry and its political masters. “.

Senior emergency physician Kate Allan represents the College of Emergency Medicine and said Bloomfield inherited a broken health care system but led a response that kept it from collapsing under the weight of COVID-19.

“I take my hat off to him. I think it’s been amazing work and incredibly hard work and I can’t imagine how tired he must be,” she said.

Bloomfield is, in turn, quick to credit people like Dr. Allan who have worked on the front lines to fight the virus.

‘Tirelessly’

The Director General of Health was one of the top three health chiefs announce resignation yesterday.

Director of Public Health Caroline McElnay and Deputy Director of Public Health Niki Stefanogiannis are also leaving the department.

Health Minister Andrew Little told Morning Report they had been at the forefront of the COVID-19 response and worked tirelessly. “Like Ashley told me this weekend, he’s just exhausted.”

Thousands of frontline health workers who have done a phenomenal job will feel the same after two years of the pandemic, he said.

There was still work to be done in terms of reconstruction and national healthcare restructuring “because we need to create that extra capacity.”

“I am committed to filling the gaps that exist.”

Epidemiologist Rod Jackson said the key leadership group comprising Bloomfield, the Prime Minister, senior ministers and others “saved thousands of lives, it saved our health services”.

“The work they’ve done over the past two years, it’s just relentless.” said Jackson. “I’m amazed they lasted so long.”

All three were there at the most important stage but it was “a bit worrying” that they were leaving. “The next phase is going to be complicated, it’s going to be more political.”

However, New Zealand had “fantastic” vaccines and the knowledge to slow down and contain a pandemic.

RNZ

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