14 Sep 2010

Commissioner defends appointment of health boss

7:14 pm on 14 September 2010

New Zealand's newest health boss was hired because of his extensive experience - not his ability to cut costs, the State Services Commissioner says.

Kevin Woods, the head of Scotland's National Health Service, will take over as Director General of Health early next year for a period of three years.

Former director-general Stephen McKernan left the job in July.

Earlier this year, Dr Woods is reported to have told a Scottish government committee it is possible to provide a quality health service with fewer doctors and nurses.

State Services Commissioner Iain Rennie, who made the appointment, told Checkpoint Dr Woods' comments related to the Scottish health system, not New Zealand's.

"The focus around cutting jobs was not part of the conversation with Dr Woods. He's someone who's had 20 years' experience at very senior levels across large organisations in both England and Scotland."

Dr Woods has doctor of philosophy and bachelor of science degrees and is responsible for a budget of more than $23 billion.

He has held his current position for more than five years, and before that headed a strategic health authority in north central London.