Nikki Preston is a Herald reporter based in Hamilton.

Waikato DHB told to make changes after losing drinking water accreditation

Waikato DHB has lost its safe water accreditation. Photo / Alan Gibson
Waikato DHB has lost its safe water accreditation. Photo / Alan Gibson

Waikato District Health Board has lost its drinking water accreditation.

International Accreditation New Zealand (IANZ) has confirmed the Waikato District Health Board (DHB) was formally notified on Friday that its accreditation for drinking water had been withdrawn.

Waikato DHB is contracted by the Ministry of Health to monitor 90 drinking water suppliers in the district.

In the meantime the DHB has been given permission from the Ministry of Health to continue to assess the water, but it could no longer associate itself with the IANZ brand.

IANZ chief executive Dr Llewellyn Richards said the organisation would now have to take some corrective actions to sort out the issues before it was reassessed.

Richards was unable to give the reasons for the withdrawal, but said it was all documented in a report to the DHB.

In a statement the Waikato DHB said it needed to make six corrective actions which related to a significant backlog of work and IANZ was unsure the DHB would be able to clear in a timely fashion. The DHB blamed the backlog on a chronic shortage of qualified staff.

Waikato DHB executive director of community and clinical support Mark Spittal said the DHB had struggled to recruit the right calibre of staff. He hoped to have two more staff fully trained by early 2018.

"We have been struggling to recruit staff over a long period of time, as all drinking water assessors need to also be qualified health protection officers, and this limits the number of people available nation wide.

"... However the impact of the Havelock North inquiry has led to IANZ significantly raising the bar for accreditation, and rightly so. There has also been a hiatus in training as the national qualification is being revamped, though we have two further staff who are on track to be certified as Drinking Water Assessors early in 2018."

This is the fourth accreditation the Waikato DHB has either lost of received a warning over in the past two years.

In December 2015, it lost its accreditation for obstetrics and gynaecology for training doctors after failing to meet three of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists' (RANZCOG) seven standards.

Earlier this year the Medical Council of New Zealand warned the DHB about its intern training of house surgeons and registrars and gave it six months to improve before it could lose its accreditation. It has also been given a warning about its accreditation in training intern doctors in orthopaedics.

Waikato DHB has been in the spotlight over the past few months following allegations around its former chief executive Nigel Murray's spending and the subsequent resignation of its board chairman Bob Simcock.

- NZ Herald

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