Media releases

Ki te kotahi te kākaho ka whati.
Ki te kāpuia e kore e whati.

Alone we can be broken.
Standing together, we are invincible.

Here we share the highlights of the farewell speeches acknowledging Mr Connolly’s rangatiratanga during his 9 years on Council.

The first is from Dr Walker:

Andrew has been an outstanding Chair of Council over the past 5 years. He has enhanced the mana of the Council in the eyes of the public of New Zealand whom we serve and the medical profession we regulate.

A few years ago, as an RMO, I visited the Council for a meeting on the soon-to-be introduced prevocational educational programme. At that time, I was considering standing for election to Council, and Andrew’s warm, open and supportive words to do so were greatly appreciated. They have proven successful in opening up my own opportunity to now contribute to Council’s work and follow in Andrew’s outsized and imposing footsteps.

Andrew, your ability to inspire those around you to step up, do more, go further, be better and to go on journeys together is the reason you have been such a successful leader.

During your tenure, Council has successfully integrated an educational programme for our first and second-year doctors. The prevocational education programme is the envy of other countries, including our neighbours across the Tasman. Although you will rightly point to the contribution of many others in devising and delivering this programme, your ability to know when to pause, listen, adjust, adopt and then act decisively once people are aboard the waka is testament to your leadership.

Your inclusive approach is also exhibited in the Council’s programme of strengthened recertification. It is not easy to tell the medical profession that the conference they attend in Barcelona provides less assurance of their competence than an office audit of their practice outcomes in their local practice. In looking at our own performance in our own practices, we ensure that modern, evidence-based and profession-led recertification is in place in Aotearoa.

A similar successful moving of mountains has been the drive to support interns working in community-based attachments as necessary to increase delivery of healthcare closer to home. Set against our sector’s focus on hospital-based care, realising the potential of community-based attachments has required careful shepherding and steely heading dog nerves, mixed with a bit of huntaway persuasion.

There has been no greater example of your mana and rangatiratanga than your championing of cultural competency, partnership and health equity. There are many historical and socio-economic determinants of health beyond the immediate influence of the medical profession, but your affirmation that health equity is a professional obligation upon individual doctors and medical organisations has led to significant changes to the standards and expectations we hold our profession to.

This work has led to partnerships between the Council and organisations such as Te ORA, the HQSC and the CMC specifically over improving the cultural competence of medical practitioners and the cultural safety of care provided. It stands us in good stead to maximise the potential and diversity graduating from our medical schools in order to deliver equitable healthcare across our communities. Doing the right thing is not always the easy thing, and you have been steadfast in supporting this kaupapa as the right thing to do and the necessary thing to do.

Although we will miss you, be assured that you have left Council in a stronger place than when you began your term as Chair. Council will continue with the many works you have been such an effective and strong advocate for. Your legacy will be a lasting impression upon the fabric of the medical profession, the outcomes of which will be realised by future generations of doctors and patients. Your work on Council will continue to improve healthcare in New Zealand – of that, you can be rightly proud.

Nōreira e te rangatira – haere ki to waka hou, hoki atu ki to whānau, hei oranga ngā tāngata katoa!

Celebrating leadership

Joan Simeon, the Council’s Chief Executive, spoke also of Mr Connolly’s time on Council and his strong leadership.

Tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou katoa

Andrew has served on Council for 9 years, being appointed to Council in November 2009 and then elected Chair exactly 5 years ago in February 2014. Over all of these 9 years, during his time as Chair and the time prior to that, there is one thing that was constant for Andrew, and that is his absolute focus on doing what was right, doing what was best in terms of protecting the public.

Demonstrating leadership

There is one thing that really strikes me as I reflect on Andrew’s time as Chair. That is the Leadership that he demonstrates – and I mean Leadership with a capital L.

Many of us here today have attended leadership courses, we have read books and articles on leadership. Some of us have even completed master’s focusing on just that. What we really need to do is to observe and take note of what Andrew does, how he conducts himself and how, when faced with a choice, he always does the right thing over and above the easy thing. He makes leadership look easy. He demonstrates it each and every day.

Very early in his role as Chair, he demonstrated a great willingness to engage and listen. Andrew is of the view that important issues should be brought to the attention of the profession and that stakeholder feedback should inform Council decision making. I know for sure that this has given the profession and other stakeholders the sense that they were really being listened to – and they were. In this way, Andrew built trust.

A commitment to education

Andrew’s commitment to the changes Council has made to prevocational training and intern education cemented its success. I cannot emphasise enough the value of Andrew standing up in many a meeting and responding to those who were opposed to change. His credibility as the head of a very busy department and a clinical supervisor and his strong view that each and every intern deserves time, deserves to sit down with the clinical supervisor to set goals, to receive feedback, and that all clinical supervisors need to take the time to do this contributed to a change in culture, shining the spotlight on the fine balance between service needs and training.

Success of community-based attachments has been helped hugely by Andrew’s commitment and support. His ability to influence others with good logic and common sense was evidenced when faced with opposition by those with arguments focused on cost and resource. How can we afford not to equip our new doctors for changing models of care, for a greater amount of care being provided in the community in the future? How can we measure the benefit of having our hospital-based doctors understanding what conditions can be cared for in the community – of the importance of good notes and discharge summaries for the GPs who are receiving the patients back into their care? “Quality cuts costs” is one of Andrew’s favourite sayings.

Andrew authored a piece about data and the importance of surgeon or doctor-specific data not being released in the public domain and how unhelpful that would be for the public and for the profession. However, he tempered that by being an unwavering supporter and advocate for the need for doctors to have access to data related to their practice so they can understand better any potential areas for improvement, so that they can also understand current inequities in care and how we can improve outcomes for patients, in particular for Māori.

This is linked very much to Council’s work to strengthen recertification. Andrew was absolutely clear about why we need to do this. Doctors are the most trusted profession in New Zealand. The profession therefore has an obligation to stay up to date and to be transparently able to demonstrate doing so.

Starting a conversation

But if I am to look back and consider what is the most important thing that Andrew has done that will change medical practice in New Zealand? What is the one thing that is going to have a long-lasting effect for the public of New Zealand?’ In my view, it is that he was brave. He was courageous. He started the conversation for us as medical regulators, not about cultural competence – we had been talking about that for years. He started the conversation about partnership and health equity.

Not only did Andrew begin the conversation but he challenged the profession and our stakeholders. He told them in no uncertain terms that this was not political correctness gone wrong. He connected our role as a medical regulator to the need for us to push forward in this terribly complex and challenging area. He explained why we need to do this. Andrew explained that cultural competence is not discretionary, and doctors must not only be culturally competent but they must also deliver culturally safe care. This means paying attention to the fact that there are inequities and there are inequitable outcomes for our indigenous population, Māori. This is an area we need to focus on, and access to data is one of the important factors for this.

Trust, mana and doing the right thing

Andrew has huge mana in the profession. He has earned the trust and respect of doctors, stakeholders, politicians and the media and been accessible to all and willing to engage and speak with everyone.

Under Andrew’s openness and leadership, the Medical Council of New Zealand are seen as being world leaders in many aspects of medical regulation.

Andrew is a leader who, when faced with a choice, will always do the right thing over and above the easy thing, a leader who has served the public well and is leaving the Council having made a huge contribution to the profession – but more importantly, to public health and safety.

Mā te wā.