‘The Health and Disability Panel’ and its hand-picked Members

‘The Health and Disability Panel’ and its hand-picked Members, who advised the M.S.D. and Paula Bennett on welfare reforms, and thus the ‘Social Security (Benefit Categories and Work Focus) Amendment Act’:



A). Welfare Reforms, the ‘Health and Disability Panel’, the ‘Welfare Working Group’ and policies relying on flawed UK “advice” by Mansel Aylward and Carol Black


The draconian, misguided and potentially harmful welfare reforms pushed through by the present National led government since September 2012, and which came into force on 15 July 2013, were already designed and decided on as policies by early 2010. Since late 2011 Paula Bennett, as Minster for Social Development (and her Ministry), also stated repeatedly, that they were getting advice on core aspects of the new policies and reforms by a so-called ‘Health and Disability Panel’, made up of a range of “experts”. Their involvement appears to have been regarded as necessary, to consider and “advise” them on aspects of the reforms that affect those on benefits, who suffer from longer or permanent sickness and disability.

It was in October 2011, that the Cabinet of the National led government agreed on, and set the final parameters for these radical reforms to the welfare system in New Zealand. The foundation for it all was laid by deciding on a clear agenda to follow and push through, and to introduce completely new benefit categories, new stringent work assessment criteria, to introduce much harsher sanctions and to prepare for establishing new processes, which would lead to pressure sick, disabled and incapacitated beneficiaries back into work. The welfare system was being re-designed to become more restrictive, more demanding and indeed more punitive, although the misleading language used was often claiming the very opposite.

The plans agreed on then did largely follow the recommendations set by the Welfare Working Group (WWG) and their report (see further below). “Doing nothing” in areas of welfare, where changes were deemed to need a radical overhaul, was described as “not an option”. The whole reform agenda was severely criticised by groups representing the affected, including disability and advocacy groups. Also did a number of medical and other professional organisations raise serious concerns, but all this received only occasional media attention in the earlier phase of preparing and introducing the reforms. Even the political opposition did mostly only sporadically comment critically on the proposed reforms. One reason for that was that larger parts of the voting population have over the years become increasingly ill informed and thus prejudicial over social welfare matters. There was shockingly little understanding and sympathy for those receiving benefits, which was aggravated by economic and financial hardship, which followed the Global Financial Crisis.

Cabinet did with the government’s drive to reform the welfare system direct the Ministry of Social Development (MSD) to establish this ‘Health and Disability Panel’, which was to “consider and advise” them on proposals in this area. The Panel was appointed by Paula Bennett and commissioned to provide “specialist” and “expert” advice on welfare reform changes for sick and disabled people. Issues concerning the access to the benefit system and assessment of work capability were the main areas they were tasked to look at.

The Panel of 14 persons appears to have been chosen on advice by certain senior staff members within the Ministry of Social Development – from “professional and stakeholder groups”, from people with experience in disability support “services”,  “advocacy”, “general practice”, “occupational medicine”, “rehabilitation”, “physiotherapy”, “supported employment” and “mental health” and “addiction” backgrounds.

This ‘Health and Disability Panel’ did after its appointment meet first in October 2011 and altogether four times until 17 April 2012. There is little or no information about their meetings after that. From that group though, a smaller Panel met separately on two other occasions, and again with a “Joint Ministers’ group” on 02 May 2012.

As it was also the case with the hand-picked members making up the ‘Welfare Working Group’, the Panel set up to “advise” MSD and the Minister(s) on health and disability matters, and also on work assessments, did not surprisingly support “the direction” of the proposed reforms of the government. They also claimed to recognise that sick and disabled faced other barriers to return to or access work that were “not primarily related to their health condition or impairment”, and were “similar to those faced by some unemployed people”.

Panel members “talked about the need to ask GPs what they know and are trained to do”, and that “there were opportunities to use the skills of other allied health professionals” (e.g. occupational therapists). Issues with overseas assessment models were acknowledged, particularly the Work Capability Assessment in the UK. It was “strongly emphasised” that assessment alone would not achieve the outcomes the government was seeking. Assessments should be linked to services and support for people to return to work (if appropriate), they stated. Also was a “need for a communication strategy” seen by the Panel.

A cabinet paper (see further below) on this notes, that some members of the Panel met with Sir Mansel Aylward and Dame Carol Black. Both of those UK based and often challenged “experts” confirmed the Panel’s view about the UK assessment model, and they emphasized:

●       “a person’s motivation is a good indicator of where to begin work-focused initiatives;

●       people on health-related benefits face barriers to work that are primarily related to  social, educational or environmental factorsSir Mansel suggested that, for many, only 10 – 15 %,  of what stops them from working is related to the person’s health condition or impairments;

●       early assessment and work-focused intervention is needed to ensure that the system itself does not increase detachment from work.”

The reported feedback and above summarised “advice” by the Panel does not surprise given that the members were selected to suit the agenda. It does in a way resemble a scenario, where the prosecution in a case before a court hand-picks the jury for a trial, and then gets the result it had ultimately anticipated. It also doesn’t surprise given the sources of advice.

Following the Panel’s report, a Cabinet Committee decided to adopt the approach to intensify and escalate efforts to “assist” beneficiaries with health and disability issues into work, the longer they stay on benefits. They acknowledged the need to gather a wider range of information on them (e.g. by way of more information sharing, and by using a new ‘Work Capacity Medical Certificate’), and also the need to make use of “third party expertise”, where it is available. GPs were accepted as needing to focus on health aspects. Re third party involvement a stronger “vocational rehabilitation” and “employment focused services” involvement, for instance for clients with “mental health conditions” were accepted as necessary measures to take.

An actuarial or “investment approach” was adopted, and resources are intended to be directed at reducing “long term benefit dependency”, with the clear intention to “reduce the overall cost of the benefit system”. New services for sick and disabled were proposed to focus on those who can do substantial part time work, or leave the benefit altogether. New delivery models were proposed to be tested, some in coordination with the Ministry of Health.

Prime focus would be put on the former sickness beneficiaries who have since 15 July 2013 already been transferred onto the new Jobseeker Support benefit category.

As already indicated, the ‘Health and Disability Panel’ delivered their work based on the earlier, practically guiding recommendations by the ‘Welfare Working Group’ (WWG) that had been appointed by Paula Bennett in early 2010. When looking at the processes followed by the earlier WWG and the narrow terms of reference they were expected to follow, it can be said that the WWG took a rather strict and punitive approach to welfare reform, excluded significant matters such as benefit adequacy, WINZ service quality issues, and applied a non-consultative style in working out recommendations and their final report.

This was some of the major criticism expressed by an ‘Alternative Welfare Working Group’ (see other information further below) that was established by church and other leaders concerned about the WWG, its composition and ill-designed approach.

What is clear, is the fact that the 14 persons on the ‘Health and Disability Panel’ that Paula Bennett, her Ministry and then also Cabinet considered as being “experts”, were actually not as independent as has been claimed. The members were clearly selected by MSD, Paula Bennett and her advisors, who already had determined intentions and goals of the policies and reforms. There appears to have been no outside input in their selection. So that can hardly be seen as truly independent. As I already stated, it may be compared to one party in a trial before a court being allowed to choose and appoint the members of a jury to decide on a case.

The lack of true “independence” can also be seen by looking at the very members’ individual backgrounds, their professional, personal and business interests and their personal, subjective views on crucial aspects of the intended reforms. Even if there may have been one or the other critical opinion, the composition of the Panel was clearly weighing in favour of the proposed reforms. The Minister was indeed reluctant to disclose the names of the Panel members, until the NZ Doctor magazine requested them by an O.I.A. request. I will list, introduce and comment on the individual members a bit further below!

What is certainly striking is the fact, that already the ‘Welfare Working Group’ did during a Forum at ‘Victoria University’ in Wellington accept “advice” from persons like the Principal Health Advisor of MSD, Dr David Bratt, who has since at least 2010 been likening benefit dependence to “drug dependence” – in the many “presentations” he gave to general practitioner-, medical trainer- and other conferences and meetings. He has himself repeatedly and continuously quoted selected bits of statistics and supposed research information that can be questioned. They’re largely based on “reports” and “findings” by only certain selected “experts” (controversial health professionals, statisticians, researchers in various health and disability related fields), who appear to deliver the information that is intended to serve his messages and intentions. Dr Bratt presents this on behalf of the Ministry of Social Development, while he is a clear advocate of the teachings by one Mansel Aylward!

There was also mention and reference to Dame Carol Black in a report by the ‘Welfare Working Group’. She is in the UK advisor on “Work and Health” for the ‘Department of Health’ in England, also Chair of the ‘Nuffield Trust’, and Chair of the Governance Board, at the “Centre for Workforce Intelligence”. From 2006 to 2011 she was the first ‘National Director for Health and Work’. She has adopted views based on the “findings” from research done at the ‘UnumProvident Centre for Psychosocial and Disability Research’ at Cardiff University in Wales, which has been headed by controversial Professor Mansel Aylward for about 8 years now. ‘Unum’ sponsored Aylward’s work there.

Again we see, that the repeated claims by Aylward, that “work is good for people’s health”, that this also applies to sick and disabled, and that it can even be “therapeutic”, flowed in to the considerations and report of the Welfare Working Group published in February 2011. In this context it must be remembered that Aylward claims that around 75 or 80 percent of sickness cases are such, where the sufferers simply cling to something he describes asillness belief”.

Then we can also find that the ‘Health and Disability Panel’, that was appointed by Paula Bennett in late 2011, did also rely on the same kinds of “findings”, and that some of the members also met with Professor Mansel Aylward and Dame Carol Black, to seek “advice” from them. A senior person on the Panel was Dr David Beaumont, who is himself from the UK and fully convinced of Mansel Aylward’s “findings”. He did himself also work for ATOS Healthcare, the only, outsourced, private enterprise assessor that the Department for Work and Pensions (the WINZ equivalent in the UK) uses. Both Mansel Aylward and Dame Carol Black are mentioned in the ‘Cabinet Paper C’ on the welfare reforms, which can be found via this link:


Also see this for other info on Dame Black: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carol_M._Black

Hence we can draw the conclusions that the various reports, presentations and “advice” by these “experts” from the same school of thought in the UK, have had significant influence on the final report and recommendations by the ‘Health and Disability Panel’. In the above ‘Cabinet Paper C on Welfare Reform’ it is mentioned that the Panel considered issues with work capability assessments in the UK (see Appendix 3), but this comment must be treated with caution. It appears that only developments in the UK until 2011 were looked at. It is also a fact that medical professional organisations like the Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP), the Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners (RNZCGP), and some other ones, have over the years now also been influenced by repeated presentations, speeches, reports and advice that has come from Professor Mansel Aylward. His version and interpretation of the “bio psycho-social model”, which is complex, yet vague, certainly not undisputed “theoretical” construct, have to a fair degree been adopted by them. That “model” though is controversial and has outspoken critics.

So general practitioners, and possibly some other health professionals, that are members of such organisations, that sat on the ‘Health and Disability Panel’ will naturally also have been conditioned to hold a pre-determined view on work in combination with disability and health matters, which will have flowed into the report and recommendations by the Panel, as it was presented to Paula Bennett.

In summary, it must be clear to the informed persons, that the whole agenda to bring in and implement these welfare reforms, which we as sick and disabled are now confronted with, was designed and already pre-determined from the very beginning a few years ago. All the so-called “consultation” was only allowed to be with hand-selected persons, who already had a pre-determined opinion and view on these matters, and who thus served the government with the very “advice”, that they wanted and needed, to justify their policies and the resulting reform measures.



B). For some reliable resources to look up re this ‘Health and Disability Panel’, and where it has been referred to in publications, the following will be of interest and use:



1). ‘NZ Disability Support Network Conference’, speech by Paula Bennett, Minister for Social Development, 08 March 2012:



“Health and Disability Panel


 We are working with people who have skills and experience in the health and disability sector on a Health and Disability Panel.  It’s vital that we thoroughly understand all of the barriers people face, along with their capabilities and interests.  We need to understand more about what work people can do, so that we can connect them to employment opportunities and support.  It’s vital that we get the right support and services to help disabled people or those with health issues back into work.  Our Health and Disability Panel is helping the Ministry of Social Development with this.”


2). “Speech to Medical Professionals”, Paula Bennett, 26 Sept. 2012:



“Across the board we will be asking more people on benefit about their work expectations, and what they might need to get into work. The focus for people with disabilities and long lasting conditions will be on their barriers to work not just their health, and we’ll be hands on, early on. This was an important point made by the experts on the Health and Disability panel which I established to review our proposed welfare changes.


It also echoes the UK’s assessment processes and the “Pathways to Work” initiative for vocational rehabilitation designed by Professor Sir Mansel Aylward. When I sat down with Sir Mansel earlier this year he told me that health conditions account for just 10 to 15 per cent of barriers to work for people on disability benefits. He said that many health conditions or disabilities can be well managed in work but addressing other barriers are just as important.


So, under the new system we will look at all of the barriers to people finding or keeping work. Detailed medical evidence will also be gathered.”


3).Welfare Reform fact sheet information, 2011:



“How will people be assessed if they are sick or disabled?


There will be a stronger focus on what people can do, not what they can’t do. Health professionals will provide information to allow Work and Income to determine what kind of work a person can do and how long they should be exempt from work expectations. Those who are permanently or severely disabled, severely mentally ill or terminally ill, will be fast tracked into Supported Living Payment.


An expert Health and Disability Panel has been established to provide specialist advice to MSD on developing new assessment processes.”


4).Major welfare reform resets expectations’; media-release, Paula Bennett, 01 November 2011:



“In addition, we are going to introduce much more comprehensive work capacity assessments to get a better picture of what people can do and to determine what the right obligation is for each person. An expert Health and Disability Panel will give specialist advice on new assessment processes.”


5).Four GPs advise on new benefit”, Helen Tatham, NZ Doctor, 29 Feb. 2012:


(Try to do online search per Google or else, if link does not lead to story!)

Extract from article:

Four GPs are included in a 14-member panel discussing new assessment processes for jobseeker support, formerly known as the sickness benefit.  The names of the four – Tane Taylor, Bryn Jones, Ben Gray and Sandra Hickswere made public by social development and employment minister Paula Bennett after a New Zealand Doctor Official Information Act request.


 “The panel is currently contributing to the design of new assessment triage and streaming processes and discussing the skill set required to administer the assessment process, including the responsibilities of individuals who are not general practitioners,” Ms Bennett says in a letter to the newspaper.


New Zealand Doctor tried to get the names of panel members last year when the welfare reforms were announced, but was told they could not be revealed.  An Official Information Act request was sent to the minister’s office in January and the response was received earlier this month.


 Other members of the panel are: Fit For Work medical director David Beaumont; psychiatrist and former Ministry of Health director of mental health David Chaplow; disability advocate and accessible communications specialist Robyn Hunt; employment and mental health expert Helen Lockett; Auckland University of Technology rehabilitation professor Kathryn McPherson; Allied Health executive director Janice Mueller; Capital & Coast DHB chief medical officer Geoff Robinson; What Ever It Takes disability support director Charmeyne Te Nana-Williams; Wellington Pasefika Disability Network chair Pati Umaga; and Hamilton-based Career Moves Trust chief executive Roy Wilson.


 Panel members have responsibilities aside from those listed above and several have been GPs, Ms Bennett says.”



C). Other important information to consider in this context:



1). ‘Welfare Working Group’ Cabinet Paper, Office of the Minister for Social Development and Employment (classed “Budget: Sensitive”!), 11 and 17 March 2010:


As main “topics” that paper already listed for the Group to be considered:

● “how we can reduce benefit dependence and get better work outcomes, including for sole parents;

●  how to promote opportunities and independence from benefit for disabled people and people with ill health…”


2). ‘Reducing Long-Term BenefitDependency’ Welfare Working Group Recommendations, February 2011:



See: ‘2.4 Replacing the existing benefit system with a new approach called work-focused welfare’ (pages 55-56) –

“However, there are some fundamental changes that are necessary to modernise the New Zealand benefit system and reduce the extent of long-term benefit receipt. Much can be learnt from insurance approaches which provide strong incentives for long-term welfare use to be minimised through a greater focus on employment. In what follows we set out our proposal to replace the existing outdated and passive set of benefits with a more unified approach we have called ‘work-focused welfare’.”


“In return, it is important that individuals take personal responsibility for getting on with their lives. Where it is reasonable, individuals should be expected to actively look for work, and take steps to address their personal barriers to employment. There should also be clear and well managed consequences for those who do not meet these expectations.”


„Clear targets

The number of people on welfare needs to be significantly reduced over the next decade. Absolute targets are important to direct attention to the scale of the problem and to ensure a greater focus across Government and the community on outcomes.”


“A long-term view

A fundamental component of any sustainable welfare system must be to focus the system on reducing the number of people who spend long periods on welfare. Our proposal recognises the value of investing now to reduce the long-term social, economic and fiscal costs of welfare receipt.

Insurance models offer clear examples of how this is done. Public and private insurance organisations focus on reducing the future expected costs of people currently receiving insurance assistance.

See also in ‘Chapter 6. Support for sick people and disabled people with long-term needs’ –

“There is strong evidence that paid work is associated with better physical and psychological health and that the longer people are out of paid work the harder it is for them to return to paid work. Dame Carol Black’s review highlights that there is compelling evidence that work has an inherently beneficial impact on an individual’s state of health.” (page114)



3). Alternative Welfare Working Group publications



4).Welfare Justice’, ‘The Alternative Welfare Working Group’; Reflections and recommendations: ‘A contribution to the welfare reform debate’, December 2010:



From the Foreword (page 7):

“The first Welfare Justice report, titled “WelfareJustice in New Zealand: What We Heard

was presented by Church leaders at a meeting with the Prime Minister and Deputy

Prime Minister. The Prime Minister received it and responded with a three-word

question, “Is welfare sustainable?” and a one-word reply, “No!” This clearly indicated

that our welfare justice approach has no support from Government.”


Chapter 1: Introduction

Welfare Justice: the Alternative Welfare Working Group was established

out of a common concern in the community sector that Welfare Working

Group (WWG) was limited by narrow terms of reference, a punitive approach to

welfare, exclusion of significant matters such as benefit adequacy, and a nonconsultative

style.“  (page 8)


Chapter 8: Disability

• A discussion that focuses on ways to reduce numbers on Invalids and Sickness

Benefits needs to engage with the expertise of those who experience the


• A ‘social model” of disability understands that problems lie often not with

the “deficits” of individuals, but with the way many parts of everyday life are

structured to exclude people with disabilities.

• Disabled people face workplace discrimination, and are rarely in full-time,

adequately remunerated or secure employment.

Extending work testing to Sickness and Invalids beneficiaries as an “incentive”

to find work is a misapplication of their desire for workforce participation, as it

does not address issues such as the economy and employer attitudes.

• Instead of a human rights approach, there has been a focus on how a benefit

recipient might be detached from benefit support as quickly as possible.”  (page 11)



1.2 A number of us attending the Forum met informally on various occasions

during the Forum with four major concerns. First, the WWG was given very

narrow terms of reference which in our view were not going to allow for the

wide review about the nature and direction of welfare that was required.


“Second, and, more importantly, those terms of

reference were based on a narrow and punitive approach to welfare and

social security provision which would not advance and improve welfare

provision and delivery. This was identified as a particular concern, especially

in the light of Government announcements and the experiences of the

effects of benefit reforms in the 1990s.” (page 14)


5). ‘Welfare Justice in New Zealand: What We Heard’ – Summary of submissions to ‘Welfare Justice’, the ‘Alternative Welfare Working Group’, Nov. 2010:



“A key message expressed in the meetings and submissions is that people receiving social security support are greatly affected by policy debates such as the current welfare review. Television, radio, magazines and newspapers present material from politicians, academics, policy advisors and social commentators that make all sorts of claims about the circumstances and choices of people receiving benefits, with almost no room for comments by beneficiaries themselves.”


This public rhetoric accumulates to convey an impression that people receiving benefits are ‘lazy’ or ‘fraudulent’, and fails to recognise the huge efforts some people are making to look after their family in difficult circumstances, to persevere on a path of recovery after serious illness or abuse, or to develop a creative life of well-being in a constant battle with social disabilities. We were told that stigma produced in such an environment increases anxiety and feelings of vulnerability. This experience for some people worsens their experience of ill-health. Associated with this, people spoke of their experience of powerlessness in the face of decisions being made on their behalf against a background of constantly changing policy. (page 5)


6). ‘Human Rights Issues in the Recommendations of the Welfare Working Group’, NZ Human Rights Commission; August 2011:



7). Key concerns about the Welfare Working Group’s recommendations, NZ Drug Foundation, policy briefing, July 2011:


Currently, there is a huge gap between the level of existing drug and alcohol services and the level of need.”


8). ‘Lifewise’, John McCarthy, media release statement on WWG report, 22 Feb. 2011


“In addition, the Group assumes that it is poor aspirations or low expectations that are the main reason keeping those who are sick or living with a disability on a benefit or unable to undertake paid employment. This is simplistic and patronising and simply serves to place even more distress on an already extremely vulnerable group.”


9). ‘U.K.’s Dame Carol Black among World-Class Judges for First Global Healthy Workplace Awards’; ‘Cigna’, news releases, 20 Feb. 2013:



“LONDON & PHILADELPHIA, February 20, 2013 – Dame Carol Black, UK National Director for Health and Work and chairman of the Nuffield Trust, is among renowned health experts from five continents who will serve as judges for the first Global Healthy Workplace Awards and Summit. Amid an aging global workforce and the increasing costs and productivity declines that stem from poor health…”


“I much look forward to the Global Healthy Workplace Awards Summit. It is an important event – a major opportunity for business leaders across the world to share their understanding and experience of the workplace cultures and practices necessary to safeguard the health and wellbeing of their employees,” Dame Black said.


10). ‘Disability and Sickness Claims Denial in the Workplace: Dame Carol Black strikes again’, Black Triangle Campaign, 02 April 2012:



“In December 2007, Occupational Health magazine described Dame Carol Black’s groundbreaking Working for a Healthier Tomorrow review of workplace health as a “once-in-a-generation opportunity” and an “early Christmas present for OH practitioners everywhere”.


This time, in conjunction with former director general of the British Chambers of Commerce, David Frost, her latest report, Health at work – an independent review of sickness absence, has emerged once again in the run-up to Christmas and, again, it appears as a case of Black bearing gifts, at least potentially, for the profession.”


11). Freedom of Information shows no evidence for thousands of ‘never-worked’ families, 05.07.2012:



“Earlier this year the Guardian ran an editorial attempting to debunk a ‘convenient untruth’ – the belief that there are potentially thousands of ‘never-worked’ families living on what have been termed the ‘Shameless estates’ of Britain.


The claim dates back to at least 2008, when former National Director of Health and Work, Dame Carol Black, while investigating the UK‘s incapacity benefits system claimed that there were households in which three generations of men had never worked. This prompted the Mail to claim:


“Thousands of children are growing up in families where their parents and grandparents have never worked.””


Full Fact was intrigued by this repeated claim, so we sent our own Freedom of Information request to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and the Department of Health (DH), asking simply whether they had any evidence to back up these figures.


The DH had no relevant information, and the response we received from the DWP was less than encouraging: “Information on the number of children growing up in families where their parents and grandparents have never worked is not available, as there is no suitable data source which would allow us to produce a robust and representative estimate of this persistent multigenerational worklessness.””


(see also: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2012/feb/02/workless-families-convenient-truth-editorial)


12). ‘Private firms’ role in creation of disability assessment regime’, The Guardian, 12 Sept. 2012:



“This week the sixth International Forum on Disability Management, IFDM 2012, takes place at ImperialCollegeLondon. It is sponsored by some of the world’s largest medical insurance companies, Unum among them, and speakers include DWP chief medical adviser Dr Bill Gunyeon and Professor Sir Mansel Aylward, formerly DWP chief medical adviser and director of the Centre for Psychosocial and Disability Research at Cardiff University, which was sponsored by Unum from its inception in 2003 until 2009.”


“Unum’s website states that during this sponsorship period “a series of papers was published, identifying the range of factors that determine why some people become long-term absentees“. The Cardiff papers advocated a “biopsychosocial model” of disability which Unum says “informed its approach to medical underwriting”. It is the same approach upon which the current Atos work capability assessment (WCA) is based. Concomitantly, the company were advising the UK government on welfare reform.”


13). Also perhaps of some interest in this context, but less directly relevant to this topic:

The Pursuit of Happiness and Wellbeing: A Forlorn Hope?” – Professor Sir Mansel Aylward, fr. ‘Health Services Research Association Australia New Zealand, re an event at VictoriaUniversity, Wellington, held on 18 April 2012:



Slides presentation (Mansel Aylward’s with information on his bizarre “Happiness Studies”):




D). Some revealing details about the individual Health and Disability Panel members:



1). Dr David Beaumont – Medical Director / CEO at ‘Fit for Work Ltd’, ‘Pathways to Work Ltd’ and ‘OHS New Zealand Ltd’, also formerly at ATOS ORIGIN HEALTHCARE in the UK (the controversial assessor for the DWP there)

Dr David Beaumont on LinkedIn:



Regional Consultant Occupational Physician at Atos Origin Healthcare

Links to websites disclosing Dr Beaumont’s businesses and other involvements:






“Workers who take sick leave during a period of illness or injury normally see their GP to provide medical certification explaining their absence from work and assuring sick leave. This can create a situation where doctors feel pressured to extend work absences because they feel that this is best for the patient. There can be a negative impact on the relationship between doctor and patient where a patient perceives that the GP is not being supportive by advocating for continuing sick leave.


Dr Beaumont referred to the research indicating that doctors do not see themselves in the role of advocating for a prompt return to work, despite the consistent evidence that helping people back to work is most beneficial for their health in the long term.


Relating this issue to the New Zealand context, Dr Beaumont illustrated the recent health reforms in the United Kingdom:


… doctors there now issue a fit note, detailing the capacities that allow a patient to  return to work, while the current New Zealand model certifies ongoing disability – effectively saying that the patient is unfit for any level of work.”


Re Dr Beaumont’s ‘career’ and his former employer ATOS Healthcare:

New Zealand: ‘British-style work tests concern’ – tests were developed partially work of disability expert Professor Sir Mansel Aylward, 12 Jan. 2013:



Work capability assessments decision follows years of criticism, The Guardian, 22 July 2013: http://www.theguardian.com/society/2013/jul/22/work-capability-assessments-criticism


“Disabled benefits claimants test: Atos reports found ‘unacceptably poor’”, The Guardian, 22 July 2013:




Dr David Beaumont will certainly have played a senior role on the Health and Disability Panel, given his background and “expertise” from the UK. As he himself runs his ‘Pathways to Work’ business, focusing on “integrated rehabilitation” of sick and disabled back into the workforce, he does naturally have a vested interest in the outsourcing and privatisation of welfare related services!

He has already been advising ACC and the Ministry of Social Development in other capacities, and he does naturally emphasize the same philosophy about health, disability and the benefits of paid work, as Professor Mansel Aylward does. Being well known to leading MSD staff members and Paula Bennett, he will have been appointed to the Panel with knowledge of all those aspects on mind.


2). Dr David Chaplow- Forensic Psychiatrist and former Director for Mental Health at the Ministry of Health

Dr Chaplow on LinkedIn:


‘Psychiatrist defends use of electric shock therapy’, Rotorua Daily Post, 18 Aug. 2006


“Shock treatment use has plummeted nationally but that’s no reason to believe it’s a “fringe” method, a leading psychiatrist says.


Ministry of Health director of mental health Dr David Chaplow said there had been decline in use of electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) nationally but that did not make the increasing use among Rotorua and Taupo people wrong.


He said the ministry looked at the use of ECT about two years ago and found it was a valuable treatment”.


“ECT involves passing an electric current through the brain to induce a seizure, altering brain chemistry to regulate a patient’s mood.


Advocates for the procedure say it is one of the most effective ways to treat depressed patients who don’t respond to other forms of treatment.”

“Involvement of Dr David Chaplow in Board hearings”, Scoop, 21 July 2004


“The New Zealand Parole Board has received the Solicitor-General’s opinion on the involvement of Dr David Chaplow in Board hearings.


Dr Chaplow participated in Board hearings of difficult cases and gave his expert advice as a leading forensic psychiatrist.


The Solicitor-General’s opinion is that the participation of Dr Chaplow in the decision-making process of the Board was not authorised by the Parole Act 2002 and that offenders should be offered a rehearing if they felt aggrieved by Dr Chaplow’s participation.”


“Secret Probe of Hutt Mental Health Services”; Kiwikileaks, 01 Sept. 2011


“Leaked documents show the Health Ministry’s mental health director, David Chaplow, ordered the investigation in June, but both the ministry and Hutt Valley District Health Board have kept it under wraps since.

In a letter to then-HuttValley chief executive Michael Hundleby, Dr Chaplow said he was ordering the inquiry under section 95 of the Mental Health Act after being made aware of problems with the service.

“There are two main areas of concern – the leadership of the mental health services, and a number of clinical issues presenting as `complaints’ involving individual patients, which may, in turn, be related to the leadership issue or to wider systemic issues.””


‘From the CEO’,



“…The meeting promoted networking of mental-health related NGOs and other partners by sharing information and discussing the potential to align work programs with the aim of improving mental health services by maximising use of NGO services and resources in harmony with international best practices and WHO recommendations.”


‘Office of the Director of Mental Health’ Annual Report 2010,


“Combat depression and its consequences”: 04 April 2011:



“David Chaplow, head of Mental Health New Zealand, worships with Wellington Central Baptist. He has confidence in the transformative power of the gospel. David identifies four things as basic human needs, and where personal faith and participation in the life of the church meet all of those needs.


       Rodney Macann, National Leader”


Dr David Chaplow will have been appointed to the Panel given his expertise in forensic psychiatry, to advise on mental illness and possibly how he has been making efforts to rehabilitate some of those suffering from it into the community, in some cases with prospect to take up work activities. As former Director of Mental Health he should be well informed about the many issues and failing in the mental health system, and one wonders, how he could agree on the recommendations to Minister Paula Bennett and Cabinet, to push ahead with the proposed welfare reforms, to also push mental health sufferers into paid, open employment.

He appears to be adhering to the Baptist faith, believing in “the gospel”, so he is likely to have brought in his personal views based on principles of his faith. But at the same time he did at least in 2006 also defend “electric shock treatment” on mental health patients, which indicates that he believes in outdated treatment methods. One may dare to ask, whether he would perhaps recommend electric shock treatment to be applied on some “depressed” beneficiaries, to “treat” and heal them?

While I do not expect the latter, I have the impression that Dr Chaplow adheres to rather conservative values and views, which are likely to include a strong work ethic, which will have fitted in well with the agenda to be followed.


3). Dr Ben Gray – Senior Lecturer, Primary Health Care and General Practice, University of Otago, Wellington

“Ben Gray joined the Department in 2006 as a senior lecturer in General Practice. He is an Otago graduate from the first class at the WellingtonClinicalSchool. He has worked as a GP for the past 25 years first in Waitara Taranaki and most recently at Newtown Union Health Service (NUHS).”


“Doctors told to prescribe work ethic”, Stuff.Co, 14 Aug. 2013:


But health and disability panel member Ben Gray, a GP and senior lecturer at OtagoUniversity‘s WellingtonSchool of Medicine, said there was no doubt that the physical and mental health benefits of working were huge.


On one level, finding them a job is not our job. But our ability to manage some of the problems that are the barriers to why they can’t get jobs are our core business.


If someone can’t get a job because they are stoned all the time, then I should be talking to them about what we can do about their addiction.”


International research has shown consequences from being out of work include poorer mental and physical health, increased rates of mortality, and risk of cardiovascular disease, lung cancer and respiratory infections.


It was hoped that more government funding would accompany the shift towards working more closely with the ministry, Dr Gray said.”


“Welfare now has health warning”, NZ Herald, 16 July 2013:


“A former doctor at Wellington’s Newtown Union Health Service who represented general practitioners on an advisory panel that drew up the new policy, Dr Ben Gray, said he was “pleasantly surprised” and he was happy to sign up to the emphasis on “work is good for health”.


“”That is very solid science,” he said. “So the main point of the new form is to get away from being a sickness benefit form. It’s to be a descriptor of what the barriers to work are.””


‘More eyes on patient notes’, NZ Doctor, 09 March 2011:


(search with Google or so, if link does not lead to story)

“Third parties should have access to patient notes to monitor how GPs fill out “fit notes” for beneficiaries, says a Government working group. Confidentiality requirements would have to be met before allowing “work ability specialists” to audit patient notes and “fit notes”, says the Welfare Working Group. It suggests fit notes replace the present medical certificates.”


“NZMA chair and Napier GP Peter Foley holds grave concerns about a third party accessing medical records for the purpose of audit. Patient notes contain information that may have nothing to do with the illness preventing that patient from getting work, Dr Foley says.”


Dr Foley supports the philosophical change behind scrapping all the benefit categories in favour of a single jobseeker payment, but says there will still be a category of people for whom work will never be an option.


Wellington GP and researcher Ben Gray agrees, and points out other groups, such as those being released from prison into the community, have the will to work but employers won’t touch them.


Dr Gray has long suggested the benefit categories be changed and is pleased to see this recommendation from the working group. “The current system is completely stupid. The categories are arbitrary,” he says.”


Doctor laments Newtown health cuts, The Wellingtonian, Stuff.co, 27 Sept. 2012:


“Some of Wellington‘s poorest and neediest people have been hit hardest by health board cuts to general practices, according to one doctor.A Capital and Coast District Health Board report obtained by The Wellingtonian under the Official Information Act shows the board made cuts of $5.6 million to its primary health funding in the past two years.


That included a $300,000 cut to Newtown Union Health Service last year and another $274,000 this year, 8 per cent of the service’s revenue.Newtown Union doctor Ben Gray delivered a letter to the board on June 8 saying that the cut was out of proportion with the $40 million the board needed to save.”


“ Ms Hannah responded that Newtown Union was one of 13 practices open during evenings or weekends, but was the only one Capital and Coast District Health Board funded to do so, at $56,730 a year.”


Ms Hannah said Newtown Union received funding disproportionate to other practices funded by Capital and Coast District Health Board.”


“$300k woes haunt NewtownUnion”, NZ Doctor, 30 Nov. 2011:


(search per Google or so for article, if link does not connect)


“It was because Newtown Union Health Service had reserves that the DHB asked it to manage on $300,000 less in the current financial year, says a GP at the practice, Ben Gray.Dr Gray says, without some political direction, the DHB will be under deficit pressure again next year and taking more savings out of primary care.


Asked for an interview, Capital & Coast DHB emailed a statement from Sandra Williams, director, planning and funding. It said: “Like all DHBs Capital & Coast is looking at its funding priorities and, where providers it contracts to deliver services have a surplus, we are working with them to see how best their surplus can be utilised.””



Dr Gray has repeatedly been quoted in the media as a clear supporter of welfare reforms of the kind now implemented. He appears to also support the Mansel Aylward taught philosophy about the “health benefits of work”, also to be applied on sick and disabled with incapacities. He is clearly a strong believer in the welfare reforms that the government pushed through Parliament as a NZ Doctor article quoting him from 09 March 2011 reveals.

No surprise then, that he was selected to be on the ‘Health and Disability Panel’ appointed by Paula Bennett! His earlier media and other comments appear to have been taken note of.

As his practice has since last year experienced funding cuts by the local DHB, one may ask, whether he is still so solidly supportive of the government’s health and welfare policies. His recent comments in a New Zealand Herald article on 16 July 2013, and in a Dominion Post one on 14 August, do though give the impression, that he may be hopeful for more government spending, by getting involved in “assisting” beneficiaries back into work. Dr Gray (as a GP) seems aware of the hand that feeds him, so his loyalty will remain intact.


4). Dr Sandra Hicks – GP (MB.ChB., Dip. Obst.) and NZMA board member

Details about Sandra Hicks on LinkedIn – and the NZMA website:



‘Membership of the National Information Clinical Leadership Group’, IT Health Board


“The National Information Clinical Leadership Group is planned to be a long-term group, thus ensuring a consistent approach for the health sector.”

Sandra Hicks’ profile on the website of her practice in Christchurch:


“Sandra Hicks has worked in the community in General Practice for 20 years and before that in Family Planning. She is interested in and enjoys all facets of General Practice. Sandra has a special interest in women and children’s health. She also does minor surgery such as removing suspicious moles or early skin cancers and is experienced in the insertion of IUD’s (intra-uterine contraceptive devices). She is interested in the management of General Practices and the way the computer system functions. Sandra has been involved in the local and national administration of general practice through the College of GP’s, the IPA Council and the board of Pegasus and has been on a number of committees which have strengthened the relationship between the hospital and general practice. For the last three years Sandra has been on the Board of the New Zealand Medical Association. She enjoys the longterm relationship with families and individuals that is possible in general practice.”

Pegasus Health Maori Health Workforce Scholarships, Scoop – Health, 05 Aug. 2004:


““Improving Maori health by supporting the development of the Maori health workforce is a top priority for Pegasus Health” says Pegasus Health Chair, Dr Sandra Hicks.”


Pegasus Health (Charitable) Ltd, Canterbury, website:



Pegasus Health was founded in 1992 when a group of Christchurch general practitioners met to see how they could use the ‘health reforms’ of the time to get a better deal for the local community. The early Pegasus pioneers brought together the majority of Christchurch GPs to form an Independent Practitioner Association (IPA) with a strong clinical education foundation and a focus on reducing wastage on unnecessary laboratory tests and prescriptions.”


“In March 2013 Pegasus Health will amalgamate with Partnership Health Canterbury PHO to deliver PHO services across Canterbury, Selwyn and Waimakariri districts.”


Dr Sandra Hicks appears to have been chosen to sit on the ‘Health and Disability Panel’ to firstly represent the New Zealand Medical Association (NZMA). She also has expertise in health information technology systems.Her involvement with the ‘Health Information Governance Expert Advisory Group’ (HIGEAG) will have been considered useful, as the government intends to increase information sharing on sick and disabled beneficiaries, between health service providers and possibly Work and Income as part of MSD.

As she was also board member at ‘Pegasus Health’, who apparently adapted and worked well under former health reforms by an earlier National led government (from 1992 on), she will have been viewed as a person in favour of further reforms of the types suggested.

As a GP she will naturally support efforts to improve systems and treatment availability, in order to assist those sick and disabled that may be able to return to some forms of work. Whether she may have fully supported the reforms as suggested, or only in part, that is not sufficiently clear. There is always the chance that well-meaning doctors are taken advantage of and then get tied into agendas that have already been decided on.



5). Robyn Hunt – Company Director, ‘AccEase Limited’ and Disability Advocate

Robyn Hunt on LinkedIn:



Co-manager at Disability Clothesline, Owner at AccEase Limited


Board member at New Zealand Guidelines Group, Commissioner at New Zealand Human Rights Commission, Member at Virtual Group”

Robyn Hunt:


“The disability clothesline project is a way of breaking the silence about violence and abuse, enabling victims to give creative expression to their experiences as they use clothing as a canvas. The disability clothesline project will gather our stories and experience; it will bring the invisible into the light.”

Who we are

The Disability Clothesline is a grassroots disability project run in co-operation with DCAV, the Disability Coalition against Violence. We do not provide disability, family violence or any other services.


The coalition began with DPA and the National Network of Stopping Violence Services, representing disabled people and organisations working to prevent violence. Since then other organisations have joined the informal coalition from both sectors. The project received seed funding by a grant from the Community Assistance Fund.”


Get involved

We launched this project on November 25, 2009 and we have collected lots of tee shirts, but we are still looking for more.”


“Judges decision leaves disabled with a disturbing message”, ‘NZ Catholic’, Oct. 2012:


““Disability Clothesline co-manager Robyn Hunt said disabled people are not burdens, and, with support, can live meaningful and rewarding lives, even with significant impairments. “Negative social values towards disabled people contribute to decisions like Rosie’s. Disabled people don’t need to die that way,” Ms Hunt said.

Disability Clothesline Project aims to break the silence about all forms of violence and abuse experienced by disabled people, enabling victims to give creative expression to their experiences, as they use clothing as a canvas. Some of their tee shirts are for the disabled people who have been coerced into suicide, because they believed that their lives were not worthwhile, Ms Hunt said. “And we are disturbed that Rosie Mott accepted that message,” she said.”

Robyn Hunt’s business:


AccEase is the New Zealand communications company that makes sure your web site, information, communications and engagement are fully accessible.


We pioneered, more than ten years ago, our unique “real world” testing model. Since then our business has grown to include a wider range of services.”


AccEase, Principal Consultants:



Robyn Hunt

As an award-winning journalist and communicator she brings extensive experience in those fields to the creation of readable, accessible web content, and accessible information beyond the web. Robyn is acknowledged as one of New Zealand’s leading experts in the field of disability. She has been honoured for her work in the disability community.”


“She is an innovator who has developed and launched a number of successful media and communications projects. Robyn has run her own consulting, writing and training business, working with the public, private and not-for-profit sectors. Before that she worked in policy and management roles as well as a writer and broadcaster.


Robyn has served eight years as a human rights commissioner with responsibility for disability at the New Zealand Human Rights Commission.”




Robyn has a BA(Hons) and a diploma in public sector management.”

PowerPoint presentation – promoting her services:





‘Disability World’, Governance & Legislation; on Robyn Hunt, June – July 2000:




Robyn  Hunt, Wellington (co-chair): Robyn is the chair of  Workbridge board of management and was a disability consultant to the Royal  Commission on Social Policy.  She has been actively involved with Disabled Persons Assembly (DPA) since it began, including terms as regional president and on the national executive.”


Robyn Hunt in ‘Rise’ magazine, Ministry for Social Development, March 2009:



“That long hard journey started at birth – Robyn was born with cataracts and is vision impaired. In her case, this means she doesn’t drive, she has difficulty reading some material and she doesn’t play sports that require good vision. It also meant that at high school, despite knowing she wanted to be a journalist, she had to endure other people’s low expectations of what she was capable of.”In addition to her public service work, she also owns a consultancy called AccEase, working with businesses to ensure that information – particularly on the internet – is accessible to all.”

“With just 18 months left in her term as Human Rights Commissioner, Robyn knows exactly what she wants to achieve by then. “I want to see the monitoring process on its way, and a robust and durable and credible process established for the convention. I want to see more disabled people getting involved in the disability community – including young people.”

(see page 10 to 12)


One must really wonder why Robyn Hunt was chosen to sit on the Health and Disability Panel, but I suspect that perhaps Paula Bennett just spotted that article on her in ‘Rise’ from the March 2009 edition, when inspecting the article right next to it, introducing her as the “new Minister for Social Development” on page 13 in that issue!?)




Robyn Hunt is a person with accepted and respected expertise in the disability sector, has been active as a writer, commenter, consultant and innovator, she even served on the Human Rights Commission. She also appears to have an entrepreneurial side to her activities, offering consultancy, audit, assessment and testing services, and training. This covers web based and other communication and information systems for the disability sector.

The latter will make her appeal to the Minister and present government, as any business friendly advocate, who also operates her own business, fits in perfectly with the new policy approach of having MSD head towards outsourcing and contracting services in the community, to deliver what they view as necessary.

Robyn will also have been considered “useful” as a good “role model”, to show how initiative and business spirit can realise or deliver “opportunities” for disabled and sick with incapacities, especially those who depend on benefits.

She was well known to the Ministry, having been working with the Ministry of Social Development while “Chair” of the “Workbridge Board of Management” many years ago. She even featured in the MSD publication ‘Rise’ in March 2009, which was also well before the Panel was chosen and appointed. One must bear in mind, that MSD was then still much in the shape as it was left in by the last Labour led government, and key decision-makers and management will still have followed the then accepted more moderate policies.

I do really wonder, whether it may have been Paula Bennett, who decided to appoint Robyn, as the introduction of her as the new Minister for Social Development appeared in that same publication, right after the article on Robyn. So there are photos and articles facing each other, with Robyn Hunt on page 12 and Paula Bennett on page 13. Sometimes decisions are made for coincidental reasons. In any case, my impression is that Robyn Hunt was “tied in” as a well intending member, to be taken on board for an agenda that she would not support in the form it has finally been put into law and practice.

I doubt very much that Robyn Hunt is fully informed on Mansel Aylward, his background and controversial interpretation of the “bio psycho-social model”, which caused much distress and harm by disabled there. But this now introduced here in New Zealand under this government.


6). Dr Bryn Jones – GP and former board member at ‘Health Hawke’s Bay’

Health Hawke’s Bay – Te Oranga Hawke’s Bay New Board of Directors Announced:


The new Health Hawke’s Bay – Te Oranga Hawke’s Bay Board members are; Helen Walker, John Newland, Aramanu Ropiha, Dr Andrew Heslop, Lorna Cowan, Danelle Dinsdale, Dr Bryn Jones, Bayden Barber, Adri Isbister.



National Advisory Council, RNZCGP, ‘Te Akoranga a Maui Faculty’


College Maori leader in ministry post, NZ Doctor, 12 June 2013:


(search by Google or else, if link does not work)

“RNZCGP Te Akoranga a Maui chair and National Advisory Council member Bryn Jones has taken a job two days a week at the Ministry of Health.


Dr Jones joined the ministry’s sector capability and implementation team as a chief advisor on 20 May, and is continuing his work as a GP in the accident and medical facility at Hastings Health Centre.”

“Primary Thinking Bryn Jones”, NZ Doctor, 13 March 2013:


(try Google or other search if link does not work)

“Hastings GP Bryn Jones, of Ngati Kahungunu, talks to New Zealand Doctor reporter Virginia McMillan in the first in our Primary Thinking podcast series. Dr Jones chairs the RNZCGP Te Akoranga a Maui (Maori faculty) and is a director of Health Hawke’s Bay – Te Oranga Hawke’s Bay PHO.”


“In Primary Thinking, we ask GPs to identify what has changed for the better in primary care, and what changes must still be made.”


Dr Jones: “One of the other things is, it’s clear to me there’s a much greater awareness of social determinants of health, how they impact on our populations, and equity.”


“Dr Jones: It’s difficult for me to comment on what would look different because I think the first step is to take a look at what will make a difference for patients. And I think far too often we don’t do that, we take a look at what we think will make a difference for patients rather than what patients think will make a difference for patients.”



There is not very much information to be found on Dr Bryn Jones, when looking on the internet, but he is at least knows as a Maori GP, has served as board member for ‘Health Hawke’s Bay’ and has been interviewed by NZ Doctor.

He will have been asked to be on the ‘Health and Disability Panel’ set up by MSD and Paula Bennett to “advise” on welfare reform, simply for having experience as a GP and hospital doctor in frontline primary care in a community with substantial social issues – with Maori healthcare and for being “competent” as a senior administrator for ‘Health Hawke’s Bay’.

As he has in interviews by NZ Doctor and other publications raised concerns about funding aspects, he is likely to have been one of the less enthused supporters of the welfare reforms as they will be implemented. But I do also in this case suspect, that he was supportive of the welfare reforms, hoping for genuine improvements in health and rehabilitation services, that could perhaps bring some better results for some able to return to work, if proper funding would be made available. As a GP he has an interest in working with governments, due to much of their incomes depending on government policies and initiatives.


7). Helen Lockett – Strategic Policy Advisor at ‘The Wise Group’

Helen Lockett on LinkedIn:


‘grow’, ‘Real Value, Inclusive life choices conference, Wellington, 6 + 7 May 2013, announcement:


‘The Wise Group’, ‘The Wise Family’




Workwise is an employment agency that provides evidence-based support to help people with experience of mental illness find paid employment. The organisation is accessible to people who have a predominant mental illness and who are already accessing income support and health services.  Its service is aligned with mainstream employment agencies, reinforcing its practice of helping people gain real jobs and valuing every individual’s career potential.”


‘Workwise Employment Limited’, Hamilton, Companies Office NZ registration details:




‘Analysis shows strong financial returns from employment’, H. Lockett, 27.02.2012



A return on investment analysis has demonstrated that an evidence-based supported employment approach (EBSE) to assist people with mental health conditions return to work has the potential to provide significant financial returns to government.


Workwise is taking a leading role within the implementation of EBSE within New Zealand and is supported by Blueprint (which offers a number of EBSE training programmes) Pathways, Wild Bamboo and Te Pou.”


“Helen Lockett, who is internationally acknowledged as an expert on EBSE, said one of the challenges faced is that the issue of supporting people with experience of mental illness into work does not fall squarely within ‘health’ or ‘welfare’ but has implications across the whole of government.”


‘Employment and mental health’, Scoop, 16 May 2013:



“Wise Group strategic policy advisor Helen Lockett said the long term aim of the Grid is to help foster a culture in health services where returning to or remaining in good employment is embedded and valued as an important part of treatment.


There is rigorous evidence to show the benefits of returning to and staying in employment for people with mental health conditions as well as evidence on how to achieve this,” said Ms Lockett.”

“Employment as a Health Intervention – The New Zealand context”:


“Inspire clinical leadership

Find champions – psychiatry, GPs, OTs

Professions talk to professions

Presentations at Royal Colleges annual conferences

• A National Education Programme – professional

training and continued professional development“


Influence policy

• Youth mental health programme

Health Workforce New Zealand Review

• Blueprint II

• Service development plan

Planners and funders

Welfare reform




1. Identified the programme delivery costs

2. Retrospective analysis of data on 1400 people who

had been referred to the Workwise IPS programme

over a 4 year period

Welfare benefits taxes paid


“Article: Helping employees who become severely depressed”, Issue 24, 2011



“What about the distressed employee – are measures to keep them in or return them to work likely to be harmful to their health? Again there is good news – work is on the whole good for mental and physical health (Waddell and Burton 2006, AFOEM, 2010) and for many people being at work in a supportive workplace can be part of the solution rather than the problem.”



As the Senior Policy Advisor for the Wise Group, a trust that also owns ‘Workwise Employment Limited’ (besides of other incorporated agencies), Helen Lockett represents interests that would potentially benefit financially from the outsourcing and privatisation of welfare services. She has an MBA qualification, plus a degree in “social and political sciences”, including “social and cultural psychology”. In the UK she worked also as ‘Director of Programmes’ at the ‘Performance Centre for Mental Health’.

Hence her expertise lies in business, consultancy and policy development. Her presence on the Health and Disability Panel will have been to deliver “advice” on the potential “benefits” of outsourcing employment services to private, non-government organisations, one of which she herself is a member.

She absolutely propagates the ideas that “work is good” for the “health” of people with mental and physical impairments. She is also quite open about her intentions to influence policy (and with that politicians), to further the interests that she represents.

One would really think that there was a strong conflict of interest in having her sit on the Panel, but apparently the opposite was thought by Paula Bennett and her staff. There is no doubt at all that she would favour the welfare reforms by the government. She would most certainly have been one of the most outspoken, strong supporters of the reform agenda.


8). Professor Kathryn McPherson – AUT, Professor of Rehabilitation, member of the ‘Work and Income Board’ (see towards end of analysis and summary of this report)

Kathryn McPherson’s profile on the AUT website:


Welfare Working Group Members:



Hon. Paula Bennett, the Minister for Social Development and Employment, announced the membership of the Welfare Working Group on 13 April 2010.”


“Professor McPherson is currently the Professor of Rehabilitation (Laura Fergusson Chair), AucklandUniversity of Technology.


Professor McPherson holds a PhD from EdinburghUniversity. She has a clinical background in nursing, midwifery and psychology and is a Visiting Professor at the University of Southampton and at King’s College London.


Professor McPherson’s research focuses on: investigating outcomes in ways that matter most to people with chronic conditions (both conceptual and psychometric issues); improving effectiveness of rehabilitation processes aimed at enhancing participation in meaningful activities and improving quality of life; and rehabilitation workforce development.”

“Rebstock appointment to welfare reform board concerns”, Stuff.co, 16.05.2012:


“The board will be chaired by former Welfare Working Group head Paula Rebstock, who is a former Commerce Commission chair.


It also includes the head of the private insurer Southern Cross Healthcare Group Ian McPherson, businessman Andrew Body, company directors Reg Barrett and Debbie Packer who both have private and public sector experience, and rehabilitation expert and Welfare Working Group member Professor Kathryn McPherson.”

Person Centred Research Centre, AUTUniversity:



“The Person Centred Research Centre is one of the research centres making up the Health & Rehabilitation Research Institute at AUTUniversity. It is a multidisciplinary centre, lead by Prof. Kathryn McPherson, Professor of Rehabilitation (Laura Fergusson Chair) and Associate Director Associate Professor Paula Kersten. PCRC consists of research clusters each with it’s own particular focus but all working towards the centre’s primary aims.”


The Centre’s research currently focuses on: enhancing understanding of disability, investigating outcomes in ways that matter most to people with chronic conditions; improving the effectiveness of rehabilitation processes such as goal setting and promoting engagement in rehabilitation. We are also exploring how best to facilitate activity for people with chronic conditions and promoting wellbeing for families, as well as the person with the injury or illness.”



While Kathryn McPherson is one of the best qualified experts on the Panel, one must ask, what makes her “appeal” so much to Paula Rebstock and Minister Paula Bennett, to have her appointed to all the various groups that have been involved in advising and implementing the welfare reforms that were finally brought in under the ‘Social Security (Benefit Categories and Work Focus) Amendment Act’.

Kathryn McPherson was appointed to the Welfare Working Group, then to the ‘Health and Disability Panel’, and she is now also on the “Work and Income Board”, tasked with overseeing the implementation of the investment approach driven welfare reforms.

Her rehabilitation and leadership qualifications and expertise will be one major reason for having selected her to the various roles she has held, and is still holding. But a question may be justified whether she may also share the political and socio-economic drive behind it all. In any case, her work is centred on a strong focus of enhancing and improving effective rehabilitation, which in itself would be of utmost interest to the policy makers.

It is quite apparent that she would have supported the reforms from the start, but it is not quite clear whether she would share all aspects of them. Nevertheless, being rewarded with the various positions and paid for involvement, there is of course some evident self interest.



9). Janice Mueller – Management Consultant and former Executive Director at ‘Allied Health’, Auckland DHB

Janice Mueller on LinkedIn:



Director at  Waipiata Consulting Ltd

Member at  The Physiotherapy Board of New Zealand


Executive Director Allied Health, Scientific & Technical at Auckland District Health Board

Chair at  New ZealandCollege of Physiotherapy

Physiotherapist, Allied Health Manager, Executive Officer, Project Director at  MiddlemoreHospital

Waipiata Consulting –

‘Specialist in New Zealand health strategy, leadership and professional governance’:



Waipiata Consulting offers a range of consulting and training services that make a real difference in leadership, health services planning and development, workforce development, service reviews and professional governance.”


“Janice is a registered physiotherapist with a clinical background in child health and over 28 years of experience in the physiotherapy profession, allied health and executive-level health sector leadership and management roles, with extensive relationships and networks nationally and internationally.She is able to lead major change management processes within organisations, and collaborate across professions and organisations to influence and achieve outcomes at local, regional and national levels.”


Janice has extensive executive team and professional leadership and management skills and offers health, other government and NGO organisations a range of services, with a focus on the allied health & health science professions, and senior executives.”

“Hospital heads dismiss DHB merger fears”, Auckland NOW, Stuff.co, 12 Feb. 2012:



Meanwhile, Auckland DHB confirmed three managers had resigned for personal reasons.


The three departing senior staff – Smith, director of nursing Taima Campbell and director of allied health Janice Mueller – take with them 29 collective years of experience.


None of the positions has yet been filled.Smith will lead The Selwyn Foundation, Campbell will pursue study, while Mueller will spend more time with her family and look into business interests.”


Janice Mueller represents yet another senior health service management expert – turned consultant, who is typical for the increasingly outsourced and privatised service providers that are being created. Now self employed – after her role as Executive Director at ‘Allied Health’, she now seeks contracts for well paid consultancy services. She is pursuing her new business aspirations, which probably give her some desired flexibility to spend a bit more time with her family. She will also have a vested interest in the welfare reforms leading to more services being created and bought by the public health sector from various private enterprise providers.

It appears her involvement on the Health and Disability Panel may have been to offer advice on managing workforces and general service delivery. Like with the many other participants on the Panel, it must be questioned whether she understood the full implications of the drivers behind the reforms, and what Mansel Aylward and his “bio psycho-social model” stand for.


10). Geoff Robinson – MB ChB (Otago), Chief Medical Officer, Capital and Coast DHB

Geoff Robinson – on the Capital and Coast DHB website:


WellingtonHospitals and Health Foundation



Dr. Geoffrey Robinson has been the chief medical officer at Capital & Coast District Health Board since 1 May 2005. Previously Dr. Robinson worked as a consultant physician in KenepuruHospital in general medicine and has been involved in the alcohol and drug service since 1980. He also held the position of clinical director of Kenepuru and Kapiti from July 2003 until appointed as chief medical officer.”

“Sunday Insight: Hospital malaise doing the rounds”, Herald on Sunday, 16 June 2013



“Rosemary Wyber at Wellington Hospital, where she says much of her day as a junior doctor was a collection of laborious administrative tasks of unclear significance.”


“• Capital & Coast District Health Board chief medical officer Dr Geoffrey Robinson says the Medical Council reviewed the quarterly rotation of resident doctors, and feedback indicated it should continue.


“Because house officers are at an early stage of their career, they need to experience a number of different rotations to develop skills and to determine their future career choices.”


Robinson says the DHB has made considerable efforts to listen to the concerns of resident medical officers (RMOs), including holding patient safety forums and meetings with hospital management. A staff and patient safety survey is scheduled for August which will measure how well managers and doctors engage with each other.


Clinical administrative tasks, such as attending to charts and completing discharges, do not end when an RMO finishes their training. Senior medical staff and GPs perform many administrative duties,” Robinson says.


The board believes it goes to considerable lengths to ensure RMOs are made to feel welcome and that their opinions are valued during their time here.”


– Herald on Sunday”


Again, with Dr Geoff Robinson as a senior “expert” in the form of a Chief Medical Officer, from a leading DHB administered by the Ministry of Health, we have a person from top management with an academic qualification and according experience, who was asked to be member of the ‘Health and Disability Panel’.

He and the other senior health profession leadership “experts” on the Panel are again proof of more top to bottom approaches being applied in the whole pretended “consultation” process for the most radical welfare reforms since at least 1991. What the government and Minister Bennett may have found useful is his experience also in the alcohol and drug services.

Being a senior public health service “expert”, he will also have collaborated willingly in supporting the welfare reforms as proposed by the government.


11). Dr Tane Taylor

Dr Tane Taylor on LinkedIn:



Dr Tane Taylor on the website of the Royal NZ College of General Practitioners:



Introducing Dr Tane Taylor


Dr Tane Taylor is a family doctor, GP teacher, primary care consultant – working as a general practitioner, mostly in South Auckland, Aotearoa New Zealand. His family origins are that he is Tainui, Te Arawa, Takitimu, English & Scottish descendent.


Recently retired from six years as chair of the RoyalNew ZealandCollege of General Practitioners’ (RNZCGP) Maori faculty: Te Akoranga a Maui, Dr Taylor is a Distinguished Fellow of the College and a former member of its Board of Education and Council. He is an honorary senior lecturer with the University of Auckland, examiner and assessor of the GP Fellowship Training programme and senior assessor for the RNZCGP’s Cornerstone Practice Accreditation Programme. He also holds a Diploma in Obstetrics (Auckland), and FACNEM.


Tane is a consultant to East Tamaki Healthcare Group (ETHC) and Advisor to the Centre for Advanced Medicine Ltd in Auckland. He was Chief Clinical Advisor at Raukura Hauora O Tainui, a Maori health provider, before his current appointment.”

“GPs asked to discuss employment goals with patients”, TVNZ, 14 Aug. 2013:


Some GPs on the front line though say the initiative could be a game changer, but it will need investment from the Government to work.


This is more challenge for the health sector and the general practice teams because we need to change the ways we actually do our business with patients,” said Dr Tane Taylor an Otara GP.


However Ms Bennett said doctors do not need extra funding to have a conversation with patients.”

“Four GPs advise on new benefit”, NZ Doctor, 29 Feb. 2012


(try to do Google or other search if link does not work!)

Four GPs are included in a 14-member panel discussing new assessment processes for jobseeker support, formerly known as the sickness benefit.


The names of the four – Tane Taylor, Bryn Jones, Ben Gray and Sandra Hicks – were made public by social development and employment minister Paula Bennett after a New Zealand Doctor Official Information Act request.”


New Zealand Doctor tried to get the names of panel members last year when the welfare reforms were announced, but was told they could not be revealed.”


“Other members of the panel are: Fit For Work medical director David Beaumont; psychiatrist and former Ministry of Health director of mental health David Chaplow; disability advocate and accessible communications specialist Robyn Hunt; employment and mental health expert Helen Lockett; Auckland University of Technology rehabilitation professor Kathryn McPherson; Allied Health executive director Janice Mueller; Capital & Coast DHB chief medical officer Geoff Robinson; What Ever It Takes disability support director Charmeyne Te Nana-Williams; Wellington Pasefika Disability Network chair Pati Umaga; and Hamilton-based Career Moves Trust chief executive Roy Wilson.


Panel members have responsibilities aside from those listed above and several have been GPs, Ms Bennett says.”

‘Wonca’, ‘Global Family Doctor’, Dr Tane Taylor, profile:


How he came to work in general practice


New Zealand-born, the young Tane lived in communist Albania from the age of seven until he was 27, and was to follow in his father’s footsteps to become a dentist. However, upon his father’s advice not to do so, he trained as a doctor. At the time of specialising in surgery, Tane, his Albanian wife and four-year-old daughter, fled the country to make a new life in New Zealand.


In order to be able to practice in New Zealand, Tane had to pass New Zealand registration examinations. He took a while to get used to a new examination process before spending time in the public hospital system and then finally deciding on general practice.”



Dr Tane Taylor is evidently a real “medical professional” with great “career ambitions”, who has held key positions and is still involved in a range of organisations (e.g. the RNZCGP) as assessor, advisor and practitioner. He is according to recent media reports on Television New Zealand (on 14 August 2013) a clear supporter of the welfare reforms by the government, but mentioned on a cautionary note, that additional funding for health services in primary care would be needed. I have the strong impression that he has favoured welfare reforms of the kind that the government introduced since before his involvement with the Health and Disability Panel that was established to “advise” on health aspects of the reforms.

Successful, career-minded and healthy people like Dr Tane Taylor also often have an inherent sense – or expectation – that others should also be able to make greater efforts and do well, without always being fully well aware of this inclination.

Tane Taylor is of Maori descent but spent his early years in communist Albania, where his father appears to have worked as a dentist. This is an unusual background for a New Zealand medical practitioner, but his life there – and since then – must have shaped his personal views and aspirations, also wanting better health care for Maori. He is likely to have fallen for the reform talk that Paula Bennett and senior National Party leaders dressed up in nice sounding language about “assisting”, “supporting”, “unlocking” beneficiaries with health and disability out of their benefit “dependence”. He may realise too late that the true agenda and end result will look a fair bit different.


12). Charmayne Te Nana-Williams


‘What Ever It Takes’



What Ever It Takes Home Based Rehabilitation Services

is a programme designed to work in partnership with our clients, their family and support networks to achieve quality delivery of home based rehabilitation and support services in the community.”


The company has been established by Charmeyne Te Nana-Williams and her husband Peter Williams. Peter suffered a traumatic brain injury in 2002 as a result of a boxing match. At the time Peter and Charmeyne had 8 month old twin daughters and they had to battle to try to return home and remain together as a family. Once they did return home the next challenge involved bringing together a highly competent team of rehabilitation assistants and caregivers to support them as a family and Peter’s rehabilitation goals. This programme has been developed as a result of Peter and Charmeyne’s personal experience and is based around the simple philosophy of creating a completely conducive environment to care and rehabilitation.”


“Families with injuries stay close”, 17 Nov. 2011:



‘Noted Speaker: Charmeyne Te Nana-Williams & Te Miria James-Hohaia’




This background of Charmayne Te Nana – Williams sounds admirable, and one must appreciate the struggles she, her disabled husband and their children have been through. It is a situation where adversary was turned into coping strategies, and then realised as an opportunity. It says on the website of the provider business that purchasers of the care packages they offer are ACC, the Ministry of Health and private purchasers.


So this is another situation, where a caring partner and her disabled husband have established a service business, which will certainly have impressed the persons who chose Charmayne to be on the Panel. At the same time the participant may have joined also with the expectation that future purchases by MSD may be in the pipeline. Such a service can only survive on purchases made through the public purse, by the state, as there will be few other customers able to pay for it.


There are always some prominent and evident success stories, and my impression has been, going also by Paula Bennett’s speech to medical professionals on 26 September 2012, that she likes to hold up such cases, to try and prove, that sick and disabled can achieve more than they themselves, or others in the public, may think they can.


This though is again part of an approach that in my view has been taking advantage of well-intending people, like some that were on the Health and Disability Panel set up by MSD. Charmayne and her team just fit so nicely into the officially, publicly presented approach. Let us hope any potential disappointments will not be too painful.



13). Pati Umaga – Disability Advocate and Musician


Pati Umaga on LinkedIn:



‘Pati honoured for his work to remove disability stigma’, Stuff.Co, ‘The Hutt News’, 10 Jan. 2012



“Helping to break down stereotypes about people with disabilities amongst the PacificIsland community is a major driver for Pati Umaga.  The Naenae resident has been awarded a Queen’s Service Medal for services to the Pacific community.  Mr Umaga knows the problems facing the disabled. A fall from slipping on a shower mat in 2005 left him paralysed.”


“Removing the stigma about disability within our own Pacific community is a big thing for me. We kind of get left a bit behind because we’re still trying to come to terms with how our culture views the disabled.


“ “We’re often seen as being ‘broken’ and told we should stay home, but with a lot of hard work we’re making inroads into changing those views. There is quite a groundswell of positive stuff happening within the community; we’re getting there slowly.”


A musician, he was involved with the establishment of the Tu Tangata programme and co-founded the Contemporary Music Programme at Whitireia Polytechnic.”


Pati Umaga, QSM, Lower Hutt, the Governor General’s website, 01 May 2012:



“For services to the Pacific community. Mr Pati Umaga is Chair of the Wellington Pasefika Disability Network, Chair of the ACC National Serious Injury Service Advisory Group and a member of the Health and Disability Commissioner’s Consumer Advisory Group, along with other advisory groups. He was involved in the establishment of the Tu Tangata programme and co-founded the Contemporary Music Programme at Whitireia Community Polytechnic. He co-ordinated and directed the Pacific component for the Firestone Fireshow, which was part of the celebrations around Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, in 1995. In 2005, as a result of a fall, he became a permanent wheelchair user and formed the Wellington Pasefika Disability Network.”



Again, with much respect for the past fate and challenges that Pati Umaga has been through, I am afraid, that also in his case, he and his good intentions are likely to have been taken advantage of, to serve as another voice to underscore the official, nice sounding line of presenting, explaining and justifying the policies by this National led government, with Paula Bennett as Minister for Social Development.


I am absolutely certain that Pati Umaga, like a fair few others on this ‘Health and Disability Panel’, were aware of what is behind the agenda being followed. Yes, in certain severe cases the affected sick and disabled on benefits will be treated with reasonable, perhaps fair consideration, and will be offered support and left alone, if they wish so.


But for the many formerly on sickness and invalid’s benefits, now turned into “job-seekers” and “Living Support” benefit recipients, the approach will likely be less respectful and considerate. As Professor Mansel Aylward has repeatedly stated, and as Dr David Bratt has claimed in his many presentations, only about 15 per cent of sick and disabled with incapacitated are supposed to not be able to work, simply for health or disability reasons.


The talk of “illness belief”, which Mansel Aylward, Gordon Waddell and others have repeated and spread, does have a worrying ring in my ears, and many will sooner or later be assessed as “capable” to do some work, whatever hypothetical, restricted, menial and casual work this may be. It is certainly the drive to save costs, that is first of all behind the reforms, all else is sadly a bit of misinformation and “window dressing”.


14). Roy Wilson – CEO of ‘Career Moves Trust’



From the website of ‘Career Moves’:

Career Moves, Whai Umanga –

Located in Hamilton in the Waikato, New Zealand


An independent, “stand-alone” service that works collaboratively with support and employment services. View more about Career Moves.”


The Ministry of Social Development and Accident Compensation Corporation contract Career Moves to provide its services . Financial support is also provided through grants from a number of charitable funding sources- See annual report for the names of funders.”


“The Employment Service for people who face significant challenges to employment


Supported Employment

Transition from School to the Community



Operating primarily in the area of disability, Career Moves has the intention of extending its services to all people who face significant barriers to employment.”


Mission Statement

To enhance the lives of those people who face disabling barriers to employment by supporting them to gain and sustain a career through the use of Supported Employment services”



Brief History Of the Career Moves Transition Service


Since its inception in 2000 Career Moves has been proactive in promoting and driving the concept of a planned Transition for students leaving school.  It has provided its own Transition service to students since that time.


The Ministry of Social Development (MSD) came on board in 2003 to become the major funder of the Career Moves Transition Service


Career Moves realised that while there is no argument for readiness training for people wanting to look for work there is a need for many students to gain a practical insight into the requirements of work and workplace culture.


We believe that the Transition planning should begin at age 14 with the more intensive programme itself running for the students final two years of school. People should be leaving school at an equivalent time as their peers and not automatically waiting until they turn 21.”


What is Supported Employment?

Simply put, supported employment is about enabling people marginalized in the labour market to gain and retain paid work in the ordinary workplace. Supported employment is a concept that looks to find ways to assist people disadvantaged in the labour market to reach their career aspirations. It is NOT just about getting a person a job – that is called ‘job placement.’ Supported employment involves more than just finding a job for a person.


Right from the beginning organisations and writers involved in supported employment have generally agreed on the following six core principles as being those that define supported employment. (ASENZ 1994; Bennie, 1996: Hagner & DiLeo 1993; Mcloughlin, Garner & Callahan, 1987; Powell et al 1988, Taylor 1996.”



Where did it come from?

Supported employment grew out of the rehabilitation sector in the USA during the late 1970s in response to the philosophy of ‘Normalisation” and the instructional techniques developed by Marc Gold. These were supplemented through university demonstration projects such as those undertaken and described by Wehman, Bellamy, Horner, Inman and others. Over time the experience of this new “place and train” version of vocational rehabilitation came to be recognised as providing success where previously there had been none. It also led to a reconceptualisation of the rehabilitation paradigm. Supported employment, as this approach increasingly became called, challenged the view of getting people ready for work by assuming all disabled people have the potential for direct inclusion into regular employment . (Bennie, 1991)”



BUT – perhaps consider this very recent news:

“Disabled jobseekers hit because scheme too popular”, Waikato Times, 18.05.2013:



A funding freeze for a successful disability employment programme is harming job prospects for people in the Waikato, employment advocates say.  Processing of applications for the Mainstream Employment Programme, which provided subsidies, training and support to help people with disabilities get into work, was halted in September last year.


The Ministry of Social Development froze the programme to ensure the budget was not overspent, citing “unprecedented demand” as putting strain on the budget.  The fund was originally set up to help people in the public sector find work, but in July last year eligibility was extended to the private sector – causing demand to jump.


However, Waikato disability employment experts have said halting the initiative has harmed job prospects for people with disabilities.  Roy Wilson, chief executive of Hamilton disability employment service Career Moves, said his organisation did not solely rely on the scheme, but it was the most highly supportive they used.


“It has curtailed what we could do. It was a useful scheme, especially as we’re still dealing with the unemployment echoes of the recession.”  Mr Wilson said Career Moves had a number of clients still on the Mainstream programme, and it was disappointing it was no longer functioning.”


“According to the MSD there are 227 people currently receiving Mainstream assistance around the country, with 12 recipients in the Waikato region.  Funding was $3.5 million for 2012 financial year – $74,000 more than 2011, but down $305,000 on 2008.”


Roy Wilson – on ‘Old Friends’, Trade Me, re: ‘Waikato Community Living Trust’:



“Roy Wilson attended from 1994 to 1997

1.            Cant really remember what years he worked at the Occupation Service as the Supported Employment Co-oridintor. He took over from Raewyn Joad

               Posted by Barbara Manning  Mon, 09 Dec 2002

2.            Roy Wilson is now managing a supported employment service in Hamilton called Career Moves


Last saw Roy in 2006

               Posted by Kate Shaw  Wed, 15 Feb 2006




With his ‘Career Moves Trust’ Roy Wilson and his team are obviously specialised in the field of integrating persons with disability and similar challenges into the work-force, using the supported employment approach. It is though quite evident that they are only able to operate on state subsidies and the likes. Roy Wilson appears to run a service that can to some degree be compared to other providers like ‘Workbridge’ and ‘Workwise’, who also receive funding from the Ministry of Social Development.


I do welcome such efforts, as long as they are genuine, fair and inclusive, and lead to constructive, lasting results, where disabled and sick, same as others facing challenges on the job market, get placed into reasonably secure, lasting jobs, where they are paid a decent income for a meaningful, acceptable working role.


This works in some cases, but certainly not in all cases. There will always be many people on benefits, who are not going to be able to hold down any job demanding a minimum degree of physical or mental strength, endurance, reliability, basic function, and have a capability to work productively and efficiently enough to justify the position. Many people will only be able to work if subsidised for longer periods – if not permanently, as they will not be able to produce the same output and results as persons without impairment or incapacity may deliver.


As the government policy now being implemented – as the most substantial welfare reforms for a long time – is though intended to save costs over the longer term, I have great doubts that the government is going to be prepared to pay for that many of these kinds of services, as they simply will cost a fair bit. After all, the intention is to put beneficiaries with health and disability into open employment, which means non-subsidised jobs. A concern is also, that performance based fees, which have already been revealed through media reports, will result in such outsourced service providers being forced to deliver sufficient numbers of positive results, which will only lead to “clients” being referred to whatever jobs there may be available, and they will mostly be marginal, part-time or casual, low paid, and not very demanding, and consequently not really fulfilling kinds of positions


As many healthy and fit persons without illness and disability already have difficulties finding work, I have very serious doubt that this kind of service will become the lasting success story it appears to be at present (with subsidies being paid). The limits to funding have already become apparent in that very recent ‘Waikato Times’ article from 18 May 2013.


So I am not at all surprised that Roy Wilson was chosen to sit on the Health and Disability Panel selected by MSD, as he is already working with them, serves their very intentions, and has himself an interest in the welfare reform creating a larger market for his services.


He will have most certainly be a full supporter of the welfare reforms by the government.



E). Summary Conclusions and Comments:


It must be noted with greatest interest, that the Ministry of Social Development and Minister Paula Bennett initially tried to withhold details about the members of this ‘Health and Disability Panel’, as the article in ‘NZ Doctor’ titledFour GPs advise on new benefit’from 29 February 2012 reveals. The fact that this information was initially withheld and only reluctantly presented upon an Official Information Act request tells us something, about the processes followed in introducing these social welfare reforms!


As for the composition of the members on that Panel, it should be more than evident, from the information provided for each one of them, that the clear majority had already a prior bias in favour of the reforms. Many even had a vested interest in the reforms to be implemented, and some were also high calibre “experts”, who have in the past been supportive of the chosen approaches, that have already been used in the United Kingdom for many years now.


The facts that Professor Mansel Aylward and Dame Carol Black were invited to meet some of the Health and Disability Panel, which clearly had been planned and arranged from the outset, and that the Panel also simply continued on from the Welfare Working Group’s report, by focussing only on defined health and disability matters, and especially those related to the future assessment of sick and disabled beneficiaries, with the goal of getting more prepared to access work, do in themselves show, that a set agenda was being followed.


There was little if any outside input into the final policy drafting preparations, and I see that the ordinary affected beneficiaries (those that are not known, successful entrepreneurs, advocates or artists) had NO direct input at all, at any stage of the processes followed.


Only the submission process, by allowing citizens, residents and various organisations to submit further statements and sundry evidence to the Social Services Committee, allowed some public input into the development and refinement of a prepared and presented bill. Yet even in that case, the bulk of submissions were totally ignored, and only minor, virtually “cosmetic” changes were made to few parts of the bill, which was then enacted.


Hence the initially pre-determined agenda was pushed through with only few changes, resulting in an amended Social Security Act 1964, which is already one of the most amended Acts amongst all statutes, and is now so complex, it is almost impossible to work with and administer. The outsourcing of services will lead to more issues to arise, as has happened in the UK and other countries, and in the end the whole exercise will lead to suffering and harm amongst too many that it was initially intended to “help”. I predict that few if any costs will be saved, as harm and damage is likely to result in more health and justice sector expenditure.


As for Mansel Aylward and his perverted interpretation of the “bio psycho-social model”, he appears to confuse cause and result, when it comes to statistics on sick and disabled on benefits. There is clearly a lack of solid research in the areas of illness, disability; incapacity and how work may be of some benefit to some suffering such conditions, or in other cases potentially rather exacerbate conditions. Work is also not just work, there are different forms of work, and the drive by the governments in the UK and here, to push sick and disabled into paid employment on the open market can only have very limited success.


With the reforms now being implemented, New Zealanders with health conditions that have resulted in them depending on benefit income, are now facing a huge, unprecedented “experiment”, to gather new “evidence” on how the reforms will work or not. It is in my view irresponsible for a government to expose such vulnerable people to such tests, given also the fact that the “science” it is based on is disputed and highly controversial.



F). Additional important resources of relevance to all this:


‘WELFARE REFORM PAPER C: HEALTH AND DISABILITY’; ‘Office of the Minister for Social Development’; Chair Cabinet Social Policy Committee, 27 July 2012:

http://www.msd.govt.nz/documents/about-msd-and-our-work/newsroom/media-releases/2013/wr-caspan lang=”EN-AU” style=”font-size:10pt;color:black;”b-paper-c-health-and-disability.pdf

(see Appendix Two for the ‘Health and Disability panel members and key advice’)


Social Security (Benefit Categories and Work Focus) Amendment Bill, submissions:





‘New Board to oversee Work and Income Performance’, Scoop, 15 May 2012:



“Social Development Minister Paula Bennett today announced the new Work and Income board members to oversee the investment approach to welfare.


This new approach will be embedded at all levels of the welfare system and the Board will be responsible for ensuring accountability and overseeing the delivery of reforms that will see fewer people on welfare for long periods


“Paula Rebstock will chair the Board with five other members from outside the public service with a wide range of relevant experience and expertise.”


They will help make decisions about which interventions work best for individuals and will oversee trials to collect best evidence,” says Mrs Bennett.


The Work and Income Board will:


Advise and support the Chief Executive of the Ministry of Social Development in the implementation of welfare reforms


Report to the Minister for Social Development, the Minister of Finance and the Minister of State Services on Work and Income’s performance


The Board members are:


·         Ms Paula Rebstock (Chair)

·         Dr Ian McPherson

·         Professor Kathryn McPherson

·         Mr Andrew Body

·         Mr Reg Barrett

·         Ms Debbie Packer


Members of the Board have experience in the insurance and finance industries which already use investment approaches to reduce future liability.”


“Work and Income Board members


Ms Paula Rebstock (Chair)


Ms Rebstock was the Chair of the Welfare Working Group which reported to Ministers in February 2011. She is currently Deputy Chair of the New Zealand Railways Corporation, Chair of the Insurance and Savings Ombudsman Commission and a member of the Accident Compensation Corporation Board. Ms Rebstock was previously the Chair of the Commerce Commission and has expertise in governance, economic regulation, and labour market policy.


Dr Ian McPherson is the Chief Executive Officer of Southern Cross Healthcare Group. He holds a medical degree from OtagoUniversity and started his career in medicine with the WaikatoHospital Board. From 1982 to 1985, he worked for the International Red Cross as Medical Co-ordinator. He has been chief executive officer for New Zealand hospital boards and worked in the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet and the Ministry of Health, advising on New Zealand health reform. 


Professor Kathryn McPherson was a member of the Welfare Working Group. She is a Professor of Rehabilitation (Laura Fergusson Chair) at the Auckland University of Technology and is a Visiting Professor at the University of Southampton as well as at King’s College London. Professor McPherson has a PhD from EdinburghUniversity and a background in nursing, midwifery and psychology. Professor McPherson will bring to the Board expertise in the rehabilitation for people with chronic and disabling conditions including strokes, rheumatoid arthritis, chronic pain or life threatening illness.


Mr Andrew Body is a member of the Crown Fibre Holdings Board, and has more than 20 years experience in business. He was a shareholder and Director of FR Partners until 2001. Mr Body brings strong financial skills to the Board.


Mr Reg Barrett is a Wellington based company director and business consultant involved in both the private and public sector. He held CEO positions spanning 13 years and has over 10 years executive experience in a range of business environments as well as  20 years experience as a member or chairman on a range of Boards. Mr Barrett brings governance and critical information technology skills to the Board.


Ms Debbie Packer (Ngāti Ruanui, Ngā Rauru) is a South Taranaki based company director and business consultant. She also has experience in both the private and public sector. She is a former Deputy Mayor of the South Taranaki District Council. She is a current member of the Minister of Māori Affairs and the Minister for Economic Development’s Independent Māori Economic Development Panel.




© Scoop Media”



Of particular interest is the continuing involvement of Paula Rebstock in a leading role, and also that of Professor Kathryn McPherson, asshe was already also on the ‘Welfare Working Group’, and on the ‘Health and Disability Panel’!!!


But this newly created ‘Work and Income Board’ appears to be yet another constructed body that is worthy of a separate examination and analysis at a later stage.



G). Final Comment


This summary report with substantial resource information and comments can also be found on ‘ACC Forum’, which is found via this link:





This comprehensive analysis and resource summary with personal comments was prepared and is being made available for free viewing, reading and sharing by –



‘Quest for Justice’



Aotearoa New Zealand                                                                               22 August 2013





ADDENDUM 1 (fr. 21 Oct. 2013):

During a “blog commentary” on ‘SciBlogs’ one of the Health and Disability Panel members that advised the Ministry of Social Development, Paula Bennett and the government on the above mentioned welfare reforms, Dr Ben Gray from Otago University in Wellington, has taken a clearer, more qualified position on the reforms, his participation, his lack of information on Professor Mansel Aylward’s “research findings”, and his own position on how these reforms are now being implemented by the present government.

The comments are in response to concerns raised below a syndicated blog article he published in ‘SciBlogs’ on ‘Advance Care Planning’, which again is a publication that raises certain other concerns, about how government interference may result in not all that desirable outcomes in this.

See the following link to that blog publication and the comments underneath it:


Four days ago Dr Gray commented like this (authentic quote):

“Mr Christian is absolutely right that advance care planning(http://www.advancecareplanning.org.nz/) is a process not an end point. People of course change their views and thinking does change. The point of the post was not that we should do this for “mere cost saving” but that there is an opportunity that if we do advance care planning well, leading to better outcomes for patients this may also save some money that can be better spent within the rest of the health system. If he looked through the material on the advance care planning website I hope he would be encouraged that the goals he is espousing are imbedded in this New Zealand developed initiative.

Mr Christian’s interpretation of my views on welfare reform are not factually based. I have not read the teachings of Mansel Aylward so it is pretty hard for me to follow them. The benefit system that was being reformed had been in place since the 1960′s and needed updating. He seems to think that keeping “sick and disabled” on benefits is a good thing. The expert Advisory group was very conscious of the failed experiment in the UK and there are significant differences from the system in the UK and that in New Zealand.

Paula Bennett could be applauded for even appointing me to her expert advisory group. I have worked serving the severely disadvantaged people in our community for the last 30 years and been an important part of the team at Newtown Union Health Service that has been a leader in providing health care for these people. In no way could I be seen as a supporter of this governments general direction. I too am distressed at the gap between the direction of the policy, which I largely approve of, and implementation which is on too many occasions callous and uncaring. I continue to advocate for my patients to be well served by Work and Income. I am prepared to do my bit to try to make a difference.”

Own comment on this:

I take it then, that Dr Ben Gray was not that familiar with the particular “research” and “findings” of one of the main “experts” (Prof. Aylward) that MSD and the government relied on when preparing the reform policies and measures (for sick and disabled with incapacity to be “assisted” back to work). He is also distancing himself from the now applied general approach by the government, it seems, and is somewhat critical of the way it is all being implemented.

Understandably he defends his involvement, but the cynical question, whether the other commenter wants to keep sick and disabled on benefits, must be seen as criticism not being well received by him.

So one will have to observe whether future comments by Dr Gray will continue fully support the drive behind these reforms, or whether he may perhaps inform himself a bit more, and learn what Mansel Aylward and some of that professor’s colleagues really stand for. I thought this may be of interest in relation to so much of the stuff covered by the comments on this topic.



ADDENDUM 2 (fr. 27 Oct. 2013):

An interesting article in the Otago Daily Times reveals what is planned next in the welfare arena here in New Zealand: New style work capability assessments – apparently similar to what has been done in the UK by ATOS and for the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) there:

Tests for disabled ‘flawed model’

By Eileen Goodwin on Fri, 25 Oct 2013

Here is a link to that story:


“New work assessments for the disabled and people with health conditions will impose ”unnecessary angst” and wrongly put the onus on clients rather than employers, CCS Disability Action Otago patron Donna-Rose McKay says.

Details of the tests, which start early next year, have been released to the Government’s electronic tenders website in a Ministry of Social Development request for proposal.

Mrs McKay believed New Zealand was adopting the same ”flawed model” as Britain, where work-testing the disabled was highly controversial.

‘The process focuses on the person as having to overcome the barriers, but in reality for many people with impairment or many people who have an illness, the barriers are not with themselves; the barriers are with employment and other people’s attitudes.’

It meant ”more hoops, more bureaucracy” when opportunities were scarce.

”You can set someone up with everything they need, but there’s no jobs available, and then how is the person going to feel?”

Work and Income expects up to 1000 clients to be referred for a ”work ability assessment” between February and June next year, about 2000 in 2014-15, and about 3000 the next year, the proposal document said.

The provider would receive $650 (GST exclusive) for each completed assessment.

The process would take about three hours, which included a one-hour face-to-face assessment.

”This assessment will be done by a suitably qualified medical or health professional, who will take a fresh look at a person’s ability to work, along with the supports and services they need to find and stay in work.

”The work ability assessment is intended to take a broader, holistic approach to the factors affecting a client’s ability to work,” the document said.

The assessment ”may help” determine if the client was required to look for work, but would not be used as a test for receiving benefits.

Testing was a final step if a self-assessment and a structured interview had ”not resulted in sufficient information about their ability to return to work and what supports would be needed for them to do so”.

Dunedin disability researcher Chris Ford said the tests were likely to find most people able to perform some kind of work, taking no account of the wider economic situation.

In effect, this depressed wages in the employment market for everyone, he said.”

– eileen.goodwin@odt.co.nz


So there you go, first they pass a very draconian law to amend the Social Security Act 1964, then they change the rules and whole approach, and now they bring in assessments, which must be suspected to resemble the ones that Professor Mansel Aylward designed for the use by the DWP in the UK. Indeed I would not rule out if he has been advising MSD and the Minister on this!

The “culling” of sick and disabled with disability off benefits has only just begun, I feel and believe! For those affected there is much reason to be afraid of!



ADDENDUM 3 (fr. 19 Nov. 2013):

Work and Income, their top CEOs, and the Minister overseeing the whole “reform implementation”, after having hammered through the in part unjust, very draconian and questionable welfare reforms earlier this year, are relentlessly pushing for yet more radical changes. A “stuff” article from Fairfax reported this on 03 November 2013:

“Contractors to assess sick and disabled for work

See this link to the original source and story:


Extracted bits of the contents are:

Private contractors will be paid $650 an assessment to get thousands of New Zealand’s sick and disabled ready to return to work.

“From February, Work and Income will pay private “medical assessors” to scrutinise sickness and disability beneficiaries who it believes can work.”

The medical assessors will be paid $650 per assessment, which are expected to take about three hours, and are prompted to recommend lifestyle changes to help the beneficiary get a job, such as a “positive approach to life” and more time at the gym.

It is expected eventually 3000 disabled people a year will have to visit an assessor, who will judge their fitness for work and report back to Work and Income. The scheme, revealed in a tender proposal, is part of the biggest welfare shake-up in decades, with the Government aiming to have 28,000 to 44,000 people off benefits by 2017, saving up to $1.6 billion.”


Any person who has a fairly good understanding of what similar “welfare reforms” in the UK have meant for sick and disabled there can now clearly see, that it is about to happen right here in New Zealand now: Assessments of the types that ATOS has been conducting there for years, aimed at getting sick and disabled with incapacity off benefits, and in many cases having led to most appalling decisions by their DPW (‘Department for Work and Pensions’) will start here in February next year!!! About 3,000 WINZ “clients” a year will result in about 30,000 in ten years.

The goal is abundantly clear, and it must be concerning those affected. It is NO coincidence that MSD and their major department Work and Income have adopted the “catch phrase” from the UK, that also says: “We will look at what people CAN DO, rather than what they CANNOT DO!” Such a slogan, open to subjective interpretation, gives them ample room to interpret medical and work capability reports, and a degree of subjectivity can be expected in many future recommendations and decisions they will make!

Enforcing “lifestyle changes” and telling people to “go to the gym”, well, how does that fit together with freedom to choose and the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act? What will come next, I ask? Forcing persons to wear a certain “sign”, outing them as “malingerers” or “bludgers”?

Thank you, dear Health and Disability Panel, for having assisted Paula Bennett, her beloved Dr David Bratt and others, to lead us to this!



ADDENDUM 4 (fr. 02 Dec. 2013):

When looking at the recent welfare reforms under the present government, that the Ministry of Social Development (under Minister Paula Bennett) is now implementing, it pays to again raise the deserved question, on what “evidence”, yes what supposed “overwhelming evidence” are the policies based? Much has been based on the “research findings” by controversial Professor Mansel Aylward from that ‘Unum Provident’ funded research unit at Cardiff University, and his and Dr Gordon Waddell’s interpretation of the “bio-psycho-social model” for illness diagnosis and treatment. That “model” has in itself been questioned by many researchers and others. Yet we are told that it is all this “compelling” evidence that they have presented, which justifies pressuring sick and disabled into any supposedly “suitable” forms of work on the open job market, where healthy and fit people have trouble finding work.

Worth studying is, how little actual consideration, credit and value the New Zealand government, its ministries and departments are actually giving to science. It appears they rather subjectively select the kind of “findings” that suit them, rather than have a proper, balanced, over-all view at what international science delivers on particular matters.

Not so long ago this was published, which gives yet another perspective of the welfare reform, selected experts used to develop them, and how the government simply picked what they liked and saw as convenient to serve their cause:

From‘Sciblogs’, Peter Griffin, 03 Sept. 2013:

“Gluckman’s audit finds patchy use of evidence in government”


Here is an extract of the article and information found on ‘Sciblogs’:

The Prime Minister’s Chief Science Advisor, Professor Sir Peter Gluckman, says there is “little consistency” in the use and respect for research-derived evidence in government and has called for a more systematic use of it in policy formation and implementation.”

“Sir Peter today released the report The Role of Evidence in Policy Formation and Implementation, which included an audit of government departments to see how many scientifically trained advisors they have in-house, their processes around use of scientific evidence and whether they have a departmental science advisor.

He also looked at protocols in place for seeking scientific advice and the practice of peer review in Government-commissioned research.

Worryingly, some officials had limited understanding of the scientific process of knowledge production, or were uncertain about it. In addition, they were not clear on how research-based evidence could be used to support policy processes,” he writes.

Rather, it seemed that some preferred to work from their own beliefs or rely on their own experience. At its extreme, I find this deficiency to be unacceptable. In part, I think these deficits reflect the dire need to build some basic competencies in research methodologies and critical appraisal skills across the public service, and to bolster the leadership ranks with people formally trained in the relevant disciplines.””

See the whole report on the audit by the Prime Minister’s Chief Science Advisor, Sir Peter Gluckman:

‘The role of evidence in policy formation and implementation’

Click to access The-role-of-evidence-in-policy-formation-and-implementation-report.pdf



ADDENDUM 5 (fr. 20 Jan. 2014):

The ‘Australasian Faculty of Occupational and Environmental Medicine’ (short AFOEM) is one faculty at the ‘Royal Australasian College of Physicians’ (RACP). It has over recent years formed and further developed policies on the “health benefits of work”. There is though clearly more to this than just “developing policy”. Their drive behind the policy rather resembles a strategy being followed!

The AFOEM President Elect is the same Dr David Beaumont (former employee of controversial ATOS Healthcare in the UK), who advised MSD on welfare reforms, on health-, work capacity and related matters. He is sitting on the ‘AFOEM’ Council and their Policy and Advocacy Committee. He and a few other “fellows” of his profession – from the same “school of thought” – appear to have pushed for the whole new policy direction. They have worked on adopting and integrating the supposed “findings” by Professor Mansel Aylward from the ‘Centre for Psychosocial and Disability Research’ (for years sponsored by Unum Provident) at Cardiff University in Wales, UK., into the policies and statements announcing them.

See this link for Mansel Aylward’s “official” profile and background: at Cardiff University in Wales, UK.. See this link for his “official” profile and background:


It all started with the launch of a position paper titled ‘Realising the Health Benefits of Work’ in May 2010. Not surprisingly to insiders like us, Professor Mansel Aylward attended as a key speaker at the launch, giving the following presentation:

‘Professor Sir Mansel Aylward Presentation’



(apparently only registered members can access the video presentation)

But this link to the launch page leads to a downloadable video at the bottom:


In October 2010 they then held a ‘Stakeholder Meeting’ at the AFOEM, which had Dame Carol Black, another well known propagator and defender of the same kinds of “theories” or “teachings” that Professor Aylward represents, attend as a main speaker. She was then the first ‘National Director for Health and Work’, Chair of the ‘Academy of Medical Royal Colleges’ and Chair of the ‘Nuffield Trust’ in the United Kingdom:

‘Prof Dame Carol Black – Stakeholder Meeting’


On 22 March 2011 the AFOEM then held a ‘Return to Work Forum’:


It already announced the launch of the ‘RACP AFOEM Consensus Statement on the Health Benefits of Work’ just over a week later in Wellington, New Zealand, which would also be attended by Dame Carol Black from the UK!

The following documents were offered – apparently already at that meeting on 22 March 2011:



On 30 March 2011, in Wellington, New Zealand, there was then the public launch of the ‘Consensus Statement on the Health Benefits of Work’:


Dame Carol Black’s presentation can apparently be downloaded via this link:


Photos on the AFOEM website show the two presidents of the College, one of them DR DAVID BEAUMONT, Dame Carol AND our former Minister for ACC, NICK SMITH! Yes, and even a number of other “supporters” attended, and one was HELEN KELLY for the Council of Trade Unions (CTU)! Prominent on almost all photos on the website of AFOEM is Dr Beaumont, that former ATOS man, who seems to be having substantial influence, as he is part of high ranking networks, and by the way also runs his own business ‘Pathways to Work’, right here in New Zealand! Talk about conflicts of interests in very high places.

In November 2011 another “Stakeholder Meeting’ followed, and it appears to have been titled with the theme: ‘Health Benefits of Work: From Consensus to Action’:


An extract from the website informs of this:

“The Australasian Faculty of Occupational & Environmental Medicine (AFOEM) held their inaugural Health Benefits of Work: From Consensus to Action stakeholder meeting at the College on 16 November. Over 60 signatories attended the meeting at the RACP Education Centre, with industry leaders addressing the gathered audience about their organisational commitment to the Health Benefits of Work. Dr David Beaumont, Chair of the AFOEM Policy and Advocacy Committee, facilitated the day’s proceedings, while AFOEM President Dr Robin Chase gave the opening address. Speakers who presented on the day included RACGP Vice President Liz Marles, Comcare CEO Paul O’Connor, ACC Director Kevin Morris, ALUCA Treasurer Chris Healey, NZCTU President Helen Kelly, ARPA President Annette Williams, Chief Executive of WorkSafe Victoria Greg Tweedly, and AFOEM fellows Dr Graeme Edwards ad Prof James Ross.”

The ‘Consensus Statement’ can again be found via this link – on the above website:


And this link shows the New Zealand signatories to the statement:


It shows us that virtually the whole of the NZ medical professions – and their organisations – have signed up to it, same as certain other health professional organisations, many government departments, employer groups and indeed also the CTU! It includes health education organisations, and also key stakeholders with vested business interests, like ‘The Wise Group’.


The resulting GRIP-HOLD on important parts of medical practice policy and with that health-, treatment- and also social policies, supported by the New Zealand and apparently also Australian governments (also having vested interests), has gone so far, that now general practitioners (GPs) are openly told, what to do:

‘The role of GPs in realising the health benefits of work’


Extract from the AFOEM’s statement for GPs:

The family doctor is best placed to advise and educate patients that, in most cases, a focus on return to work is in the best interest of the patient – for both their future and quality of life and that of their family.” “Return to work is not possible for everyone, but certifying time off work – particularly when absence is long term – can have significant side effects, including increased rates of overall mortality, poorer physical health and poorer mental health and psychological wellbeing.” “Simple messages delivered in the clinical environment can encourage patients to develop evidence-based views of the relationship between health and work. Evidence-based messages include: Work is an important part of rehabilitation The longer someone is off work, the less chance they have of ever returning. Most common health conditions will not be ‘cured’ by treatment. Work is a therapeutic intervention, it is part of treatment Even when work is uncomfortable or difficult, it usually does not cause lasting damage. Typically, waiting for recovery delays recovery. Staying away from work may lead to depression, isolation and poorer health, and employer-supported, early return to work helps recovery, prevents deconditioning and helps provide patients with appropriate social contacts and support mechanisms.”

“Practical ways of assisting patients back to employment and optimum functioning include: Recommending a graduated increase in activity and setting a timeline for return to work. Talking to the employer (preferably while the patient is with you), especially about how to modify the workplace and work duties to allow return to work Collaboratively identifying obstacles – and solutions – in the workplace. Being clear about what health care can and can’t achieve, and I dentifying possible sources of support, including family members, co-workers and relevant government services.”

A number of “Stakeholder Updates” or update reports are available via the website too:


And following all this was of course substantial justified concern and criticism expressed, by the writer of this thread, by various commenters, by as certain disability advocacy organisations, sundry health advocates, some health professionals themselves, a good number of beneficiary and ACC advocates – and a few politicians, writers and bloggers. Now the AFOEM seems to have taken note of this, and they have seen themselves urged to bring out a new, additional statement. They are still defending and trying to justify their position statement on the “health benefits of work”, but they have seen a need to examine, define and explain, what “work” that may be, that is “beneficial”. Now they are writing and talking about “good work”.

In some “latest” news from October 2013 they have suddenly come out with this:

“No work or bad work: both can make you sick – AFOEM launches position statements on healthy workplaces”

“The RACP’s Australasian Faculty of Occupational and Environmental Medicine has launched two position statements: What is Good Work? and Improving Workforce Health and Workplace Productivity. The position statements make recommendations for governments, insurers, businesses and worker advocates to enhance health and productivity in the workplace in Australia and New Zealand. They advocate for improvements in workplace culture and the creation of ‘good work’ from which individuals, employers and the community can benefit. The papers are companion statements to the New Zealand and Australian Consensus Statement on the Health Benefits of Work and the position statement Realising the Health Benefits of Work, launched in 2010 to raise awareness that good work improves health and wellbeing What is Good Work? and Improving Workforce Health and Workplace Productivity fact sheets are available, which summarise each position statement. A media release was also issues to the New Zealand Media and Australian Media about the launch of the position statements.”

Yes, there is an additional statement found here now:


And also perhaps check this out:


A media statement was apparently made earlier:


Own Comment:

These are again highly worrying developments, showing nothing much else, than certain, highly controversial senior medical “researchers” (i.e. Aylward, Waddell and so), who have actually mostly only done indirect research based on various selected reports written by others, have achieved to bring about changes in commonly accepted medical science and practice, with the help of a corporate insurer (UNUM), that was in the US convicted for practices that were found to be illegal. UNUM Provident and UNUM generally have played a major advisory and development role in welfare policy in the UK, and they have had an interest in the privatisation of health and disability care, in gaining a stronger foothold in the insurance of workers and people in general, while welfare agencies like the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) tighten and restrict welfare entitlements and payments. Now we have UNUM indirectly influencing health and welfare policy in New Zealand, as their loyal mercenary Aylward has achieved to influence the AFOEM at the RACP! (Note: A fair amount of the contents of this comment has also been put up under another, earlier post, that was made on all these same developments!).



ADDENDUM 6 (from 30 Jan. 2014):

Further to this topic and the many previous contributions and comments – on 30 June 2013 the “Herald on Sunday” published the following article:

“Govt will pay to shift mentally ill into work”

See this link for the complete article:

Here are some extracts from that story by Lynley Bilby:

“Mentally ill people will be moved off state-funded benefits and into work using private employment agencies who will earn hefty fees for the service.”

“Private providers are being lined up to deliver “wrap around” case management for sickness beneficiaries with common mental health conditions to help find jobs and co-ordinate clinical support so they stay in work. If successful, private providers could earn up to $12,000 for placing a client considered to have “entrenched” mental health issues in a job where they are working for 30 hours or more a week. An advocate for beneficiaries, who declined to be named, sounded warnings this week about forcing unwell people into competing for jobs in a tight employment market. “Sadly it seems to be an experiment with vulnerable people, and one must be concerned about how it will affect some.”

“Action Against Poverty warned the proposed changes threatened to turn society’s poor and vulnerable into commodities. “We are concerned people will be pushed into work in order for providers to receive money, which moves the onus away from wellbeing to profit,” said spokeswoman Sarah Thompson.”

“Providers to the Mental Health Employment Services will be given just six months to place people into work before the clients are “exited” from the service. The ministry says it wants to serve 1,000 mentally ill beneficiaries each year in New Zealand, including 600 in the Auckland region. Under the new scheme, mentally ill beneficiaries deemed unable to look for fulltime jobs will be referred to privately run services by Work and Income. They will be given a “service intensity categorisation” of medium, high or very high. Service providers have been given a target of placing half of all clients in jobs with 80 per cent of those still working a year after they started.”

“The private providers will be paid a series of fees according to the level of illness and how successful the beneficiaries are in landing and keeping work. The providers will be paid for enrolment, employment placement, continuous employment at six months and 12 months.”

On Wednesday, 22 January this year (2014) a new article in the ‘New Zealand Herald’, by Simon Collins, sheds more light on what has been decided and launched in this regard:

“Oz firm paid to find jobs for Kiwis”

Here is a link to that full article:

Advocate upset Australian company the big winner in Work and Income experiment to help beneficiaries.”


“Beneficiary advocates are angry that an Australian company has emerged as the big winner in an experiment that will pay contractors up to $12,000 to help a sole parent or a person with mental health issues into paid work. Perth-company Advanced Personnel Management (APM) has won pilot contracts for people with mental health conditions in Auckland, Waikato, Christchurch and Southland, and for sole parents in the Bay of Plenty, Wellington, Nelson and Canterbury – more than any local agency in the Work and Income tender.”

The company will make between $2250 and $12,000 for every person with a mental health condition in Auckland that it can place in a job if the person stays employed for a year.

“”APM’s website describes the company as “the largest private sector provider of Australian Government funded vocational rehabilitation services and disability employment services”. It says New Zealand operations started in 2012 with vocational rehabilitation contracts with the Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC). NZ service delivery manager Karen Came said she could not speak because of confidentiality clauses in the Work and Income contracts. Beneficiary Advocacy Federation co-ordinator Kay Brereton said the contracts should have gone to more local agencies such as the West Auckland Living Skills Homes (Walsh Trust), which won one of the mental health contracts, and the Kawerau Job Centre, which won a sole-parent contract.”

Strive Community Trust chief executive Sharon Wilson-Davis said she did not bid for the contracts and allowed an existing sole-parent contract to end late last year because she felt it would be impossible to achieve the work placements required to earn fees under the new pilots. “A lot of these people certainly want to work but sometimes you are better off to get them into further training,” she said. “Otherwise if you push them into these low-paying jobs, then when those jobs go they are back in the same place.””

“List of successful tenders:”

“Sole-parent employment contracts
Auckland (200 clients): Skills Update; Quality Education Services; In-Work NZ.
Bay of Plenty (100): Alpha Consultants; APM Workcare; Choice Consultancy; Kawerau Job Centre.
East Coast (150): First Choice Employment; Career Change Ltd.
Taranaki (100): Taranaki Further Education and Training Services; Training for You; Choice Consultancy.
Wellington (150): Acts Institute; APM Workcare; In-Work NZ.
Nelson (100): Business Management School Ltd; Golden Bay Work Centre; Community Colleges NZ; APM Workcare.
Canterbury (200): APM Workcare; Catapult Employment Services; Steph Mainprize Consulting; MaxNetwork.

Mental health employment contracts
Auckland (600): Workwise; West Auckland Living Skills Homes Trust; Elevator Group; Connect Supporting Recovery; Framework Trust; APM Workcare.
Waikato (100): Workwise; APM Workcare.
Christchurch (200): APM Workcare; Workwise.
Southland (100): APM Workcare.”

Not unsurprisingly serious questions have been raised about the new outsourced “mental health employment services” that MSD and WINZ have contracted out to various “service providers” like the Perth based ‘APM Workcare’, New Zealand based ‘Workwise’ and a few others.

On ‘Nine to Noon’ on Radio New Zealand National on 28 January 2014 Kathryn Ryan had Sharon Wilson-Davis, CEO of the ‘STRIVE Community Trust’, and Sandra Kirikiri from the Ministry of Social Development (as ‘Director of Welfare Reform’) answer some good questions on the risks, the feasibility and other matters. Here is the link to the available audio track:


Sharon Wilson-Davis was once also a member on the controversial ‘Welfare Working Group’, that Paula Bennett had hand-picked to discuss getting more persons (also those sick and disabled) into work, as part of fundamental, indeed radical to draconian welfare reforms, of which the last major ones have been implemented since July 2013. There is some info on Sharon (and her ‘Strive Community Trust’) here:



Here is also an older article in the New Zealand Herald from 11 March 2011, where she answers to strong criticism from Sue Bradford and others, that was directed at the ‘Welfare Working Group’ and their aims:


Own Comments:
In these interviews that Kathryn Ryan conducted a bit after 09:10 am on 28 Jan. 2014, Sharon Wilson-Davis admitted that there were very serious risks with running such an “experiment” with often very vulnerable persons, who may have all kinds of health conditions and issues, that has left them disabled and disadvantaged to compete with “fit” and “healthy” people. Sandra Kirikiri from MSD was at times apparently a bit short for answers and explanations, and she basically also admitted, it is just a “trial”, and it needs to be seen, how it will work. The pressures seem to be on the service deliverers to get persons into jobs, and if they do not meet a high enough success rate, they will run a loss. That fear they must have, running their “businesses”, will simply mean, they will put pressures on the “clients” referred to them, which will put especially mentally ill in very dangerous situations, fearing losing their benefit and else, should they not accept any kind of “ordinary” job on the open marked, that is deemed “suitable” by WINZ case managers, and by the staff working for the providers.

This is truly worrying, and MSD are conducting “experiments” with “clients” from high risk groups. Remember ATOS and the Department of Work and Pensions in the UK, I’d say. It is time to stop such risky “experiments”, before any person suffers serious consequences. But we will likely not hear about it, as the providers may not be covered by the Official Information Act.

I am sure that this will not be the last we will hear about this high risk, irresponsible kind of “experiment” that is conducted not just with hard to employ long term solo parents, but especially with persons suffering mental health conditions, who are often at risk to do self-harm or to even commit suicide, when not feeling able to cope! Let us hope that it will not come to this, but if it will, they will try to do all to keep it quiet and out of the public’s eyes. Shame on Paula Bennett, and on this government, to turn them into virtual “commodities”, with whom service delivery businesses can make profits!



ADDENDUM 7 (03 April 2014):

After the most radical, draconian welfare reforms for many years were introduced and being implemented in mid July last year, the Ministry of Social Development (MSD) is apparently pushing ahead as relentlessly with new measures, just as they push relentlessly with their focus on work.

An article in the Otago Daily Times (from 12 March 2014) reveals what is going on in the area of work capability assessments:

“Regime still untried”
By Eileen Goodwin on Wed, 12 Mar 2014


A new work testing regime has started for ill and disabled people, but no-one has been referred in its first couple of weeks. Under the new system, Work and Income can refer clients with a health condition or disability for a work ability assessment with one of 16 newly contracted providers. Yesterday, CCS Disability Action chief executive David Matthews said the organisation remained concerned about the regime. It had had reassurances, but wanted to see how it would work in practice. Mr Matthews, of Wellington, was disappointed by the medical background of the providers, because the organisation preferred assessors with a disability background. The focus should be on supporting the disabled into employment, rather than an ”impersonal medical-based assessment around capability”.

A hugely controversial testing regime in the United Kingdom caused ”chaos and churn” for the disabled, and Mr Matthews did not want to see anything similar in New Zealand. The service began officially on February 24, although the Ministry of Social Development was still finalising some of the 16 contracts. Work and Income national commissioner Carl Crafar said the assessments would take a ”fresh look” at a person’s strengths and abilities, and anything that ”may be stopping them from working and what supports they may need”.

Occupational therapists, physiotherapists, psychologists and rehabilitation nurses were among those who would provide them. ”Although we have had no referrals so far, we are on track. Before making a referral, our staff need to decide if a work ability assessment is the most appropriate step, or if some of Work and Income’s other services may be more useful for a particular client,” Mr Crafar said.


Yes, and one such new private service provider appears to be called ‘Linkage’, and is part of the Wise Group, which already has got contracts with MSD for their subsidiary ‘Workwise’. One must remember that the ‘Strategic Policy Advisor’ for the Wise Group, Helen Lockett (from the UK), was member of the ‘Health and Disability Panel’, that advised MSD and Paula Bennett (and with her the government) on medical and work capacity aspect as part of the welfare reforms. So again, the Wise Group have been rewarded with new contracts, it seems. What about “conflicts of interest”, the layperson out here asks? It seems it does not matter, as long as it fits in with the agenda now followed by MSD.

See the link to a position description in form of a PDF file, which can be downloaded from a Wise Group website:

Click to access position-description-rhp-work-ability-assessment_feb-14.pdf

Click to access position-description-rhp-work-ability-assessment_feb-14.pdf

I wonder whether MSD and their bosses gave any serious enough of considerations to the concerns expressed in a submission by the NZMA (New Zealand Medical Association) in September last year? They were very concerned about aspects of this outsourcing of assessments, and what persons would work as staff for those providers:

Click to access sub-WorkAbilityAssessments-Providers.pdf

Final Own Comments:

We should be very worried about this move, as it resembles the approaches used in the UK, where ATOS was used as external assessor for the Department of Work and Pensions, and which led to thousands of appalling recommendations and decisions, based on flawed assessments!



ADDENDUM 8 (03 April 2014)

Further to some information provided in my last comment in this thread, here is some eye opening information about ‘Linkage’, a member of the Wise Group, listed as a “charity”, but of course run like a business, who have won contracts with MSD (the Ministry of Social Development) to conduct work ability assessments for WINZ, just like ATOS was commissioned to do for the DWP in the UK:

Links to website of ‘Linkage’, providing information on their services, and one to a position description for work ability assessors for their services (in PDF format):


Click to access position-description-rhp-work-ability-assessment_feb-14.pdf

Information from that PDF document with a position description for assessors to be employed by ‘Linkage’ (in the form of extracts from the text):

‘Registered health professional – work ability assessment’

Position description
(Feb. 2014)

About Linkage and the Wise Group

(from page 2 of PDF presentation)

The Wise Group is one of the largest non-government providers in New Zealand. We’re a family of charitable entities, and we’re all linked by a common dream. We believe in creating fresh possibilities and services for the wellbeing of people, organisations and communities. We’re not like other organisations. For us it’s about people, not awards, it’s about caring, not headlines. Linkage Limited operates as a subsidiary charitable company of the Wise Trust and supports people across New Zealand to access community services that meet their most urgent needs with the right information, at the right time, in the right way. Since 1998 Linkage has been providing free, professional and confidential support and information services to help people navigate their way through the health and social service system. Our spirit is – together we make a difference. This is not just a slogan on the wall for us, we all live this every day and as individuals and as an organisation we work hard to stay connected with each other and our communities to inspire hope through choice.

Peak Performance

Peak Performance is about enabling individuals and organisations to continuously exceed their best in the pursuit of an inspiring purpose. It’s about becoming the best we can be. The Wise Group is committed to the best of sustainable business practice and has embraced the idea of peak performance. We don’t see peak performance as a destination or a marker in the ground. It’s a journey… a way of being. We believe in fresh possibilities, a sustainable future and, most of all, in the potential of people. We truly believe we are one and that together everything is possible.

The chart is our Linkage philosophy. It tells the story of our dream, our challenge, our focus and who we are as an organisation.

Registered health professional – work ability assessment
(see page 3 of PDF presentation)

Reports to: Clinical leader
Location: Hamilton

To complete work ability assessments which place people at the centre and effectively identify the strengths they bring that enable them to find and keep employment which is meaningful to them
To write reports that accurately reflect each person and the supports that will break down any barriers which may exist to working and living their lives well
To build and maintain relationships with regional health and disability advisory teams that ensure Linkage is the provider of choice for work ability assessment referrals for people who experience mental health concerns
To contribute to Linkage’s reputation for connecting people with the right information, at the right time, in the right way to address their most urgent needs.

Relationships (internal): Wise group employees, Linkage employees
Relationships (external): Work and Income clients, regional health and disability teams, Work and Income case managers, relevant government and non government agencies, local health and social services, community groups

Core responsibilities
(extracts from pages 5 and 6)

Build positive and engaging relationships


Develop and maintain effective functional relationships with regional Work and Income health and disability teams

Work collaboratively with clinical, support, and other health and social services in planning and coordinating seamless service delivery

Communicate regularly and share relevant information and updates to ensure consistent messaging about the work ability assessment and its purpose

Develop effective relationships with the Linkage team to support the work ability assessment process

Ongoing long term relationships are established with the regional health and disability teams
Linkage is the provider of choice for work ability assessment referrals for people who experience mental health concerns
Registered health professionals have broad networks and great relationships to deliver the best possible work ability assessment outcomes
Linkage has a reputation for being an organisation that works collaboratively with others to get the right information, at the right time, in the right way to meet peoples most urgent needs
Knowledge within the Linkage team is accessible
Effective communication ensures confident journey

(more info found in original PDF document)

Core responsibilities

Tracking and reporting


Write work ability assessment reports which clearly and accurately reflect each person’s strengths, abilities and dreams, and identify the supports they need to achieve employment goals


People who attend a work ability assessment believe each report is a good representation of them on the page and understand what information will be provided to Work and Income
The health and disability team accept all work ability assessment reports on first submission and accurately interpret the information provided to achieve positive outcomes for the people they support

Core responsibilities

Meet key performance indicators


Ensure referrals are managed to completion

Maintain knowledge of contractual obligation

Achieve all outcomes in line with the timeframes for completing a work ability assessment


All work ability assessment referrals are managed within the necessary timeframe
□ Registered health professionals demonstrate robust knowledge of contractual obligations and consistently meet required outcomes

Know how
(see page 9 of PDF presentation)

Practical and technical knowledge

A relevant health professional qualification
Membership to a profession which is regulated by the Health Practitioners Competency Assurance Act 2003
Full drivers licence

Experience with Microsoft Office Suite
Comprehensive understanding of relevant legislation including The Privacy Act, Mental Health Act, Human Rights Act and Treaty of Waitangi Principles
Proven ability to build successful relationships with health and social service professionals and community organisations
Sound knowledge of supports and services needed to support people to find and keep meaningful employment
Knowledge and understanding of the barriers that could affect a person’s employment and how these can be addressed

Extensive working knowledge of mental health and/or disabilities sector


Mental health and addiction or social work experience, particularly needs based assessment and condition management
Understanding of vocational assessment in the context of an identified health condition, injury or disability
Proven ability to accurately review and interpret medical, health and employment information …

Ability to quickly learn new computer programmes and skills
Understands the recovery principles and has the ability to demonstrate this in practice
Ability to utilise motivational interviewing techniques and the strengths model in practice ….

Own Comments:

So the staff with health professional qualification and certain experience are expected to be “members” of medical and health professions covered by the Health Practitioners Competency Assurance Act 2003, but that does not need to mean, they have to be registered. That confirms to me, that the MSD did not heed the concerns and advice by the NZMA in their submission to MSD and Dr David Bratt, from 25 September 2013!


See the original position description from ‘Linkage’ and the Wise Group from Feb. 2014.

Attached File:
position-Wise Group, description-rhp-work-ability-assessment_feb-14



ADDENDUM 9 (03 April 2014)


Yesterday New Zealand Doctor magazine published an article with further information on the new Work Ability Assessment services that Work and Income introduced late in February this year. It also lists a number of the new private, service providers, that do (similar to ATOS in the UK) now provide medical and work capability assessments to WINZ:

(search per Google or other search provider by using the title and NZ Doctor as criteria, if the link above does not work to take you to the article)

MSD explains criteria for work ability assessors

Cliff Taylor ctaylor@nzdoctor.co.nz Wednesday 02 April 2014, 2:56PM

Assessors judging benefit claimants’ ability to work should have professional health or disability qualifications, says the Ministry of Social Development’s welfare reform director Sandra Kirikiri.

Work Ability Assessment (WAA) is the latest scheme introduced by Work and Income as part of the ministry’s sweeping changes to the benefits system.

But the NZMA has raised major concerns about aspects of the assessment process, particularly the medical qualifications of “vocational practitioners” being contracted to carry out the assessments (>>nzdoctor.co.nz, ‘News’, 31 March).

NZMA chair Mark Peterson said in a submission on a draft of the proposal last year, there were “significant risks” in using non-healthcare workers to review medical information and discuss recommendations on condition management or treatment. “We submit that the role and importance of front-line general practitioners appears to have been underplayed in this proposed list of assessment providers,” Dr Peterson says.

In response to queries from New Zealand Doctor, the ministry has now provided more information about the assessors and providers it is contracting.

Suitable qualifications expected

Ms Kirikiri says, in general, the ministry would expect assessors delivering WAA will:

* be a suitably qualified health or disability professional
* belong to a profession that is regulated by the Health Practitioners Competency Assurance Act 2003
* demonstrate a good understanding of the objectives of the WAA
* demonstrate proven experience in the provision of assessment services for people with a health condition or disability
* demonstrate an understanding of vocational assessment in the context of an identified health condition, injury or disability
* demonstrate a sound knowledge of the supports and services needed to support people to find and stay in work
* have the ability to write WAA reports in clear plain language
* have excellent communication and relationship management skills
* continue to develop their vocational education and training knowledge and skills as well as their industry competence.

The work ability assessor may discuss their recommendations on condition management or treatment at work and the client’s ability to work, with the client’s usual health practitioner (if appropriate) and will send a copy of the Work Ability Assessment report to the client’s GP or regular health professional, with the client’s consent,” Ms Kirikiri says in an email.”

Contracted assessors named

The contracted WAA providers and service areas are:

APM Workcare – National
Catapult Employment Services Trust – Canterbury
Company Medic – Northland
ECS Connections Ltd – Taranaki, Central
Enableworks Ltd – Canterbury
Linkage Limited (Wise Group) – Auckland, Waikato, Taranaki, Central, Wellington, Canterbury
Mana Recovery Trust – Wellington
OTRS Group Ltd – Auckland, Waikato, Bay of Plenty
PhysioACTION Ltd – Auckland
ProActive Rehab – Northland, Auckland, Waikato, Bay of Plenty, East Coast Taranaki, Central, Wellington
Southern Rehab (plus ProActive Rehab) – Nelson, Canterbury, Southern
Te Oranganui Iwi Health Authority – Taranaki
WALSH Trust – Auckland
Wayne Hudson Physiotherapy Ltd – East Coast
WorkRehab Ltd – Nelson, Canterbury, Southern.”

Own Comments:

Given the fact that the NZMA have expressed serious reservations and concerns about particular aspects of this approach – by MSD using newly contracted, outsourced service providers, especially in regards to the qualifications of such assessors, one must be very concerned about how this will work. As many gathered bad experiences with Work and Income’s designated doctors, who provide second opinions on health conditions and disability, this development will hardly be reassuring WINZ clients, that they will be treated fairly, with respect and by sufficiently qualified, professional health workers, who will have targets to meet.

It is clear, that WINZ and MSD do NOT trust client’s own GPs and specialists. This whole outsourcing to obtain from the named providers supposedly “independent” assessments would otherwise not be seen as necessary. Again, my suspicion is that this is just part of an agenda, to set new rules, to create new hurdles, to hold hoops yet higher for sick and disabled to jump through, before they will have their conditions accepted, and before they will be exempt from looking for hard to find jobs on the open market.

The fact that all this was tried in the UK, and that the policies there and here were substantially influenced by controversial Professor Mansel Aylward and certain like-minded “experts” (mostly from the same research centre and affiliated institutes), who consider most illnesses as being nothing much more than “illness belief”, this means that a very “rigorous” approach can be expected, putting at least indirect pressures by way of defined, high expectations on the sick and disabled that will be referred to the assessors.

For memory, this is what the NZMA also stated in their submission:

“Our second major concern relates to the duality of a role in which a seemingly independent assessor is paid by MSD to undertake an assessment of an MSD client but then also provides advice and recommendations on the management for the individual concerned. To avoid a conflict of underlying motivations, w e believe that better practice would entail some sort of firewall between these two roles. Such a separation of roles would also be consistent with what occurs in other spheres (e.g. assessments in the military and for members of sports teams).

Finally, we suggest that it would generally be more appropriate for MSD to liaise with the patient as well as their general practitioner when formulating an assessment of their work ability.Where independent assessments are required, we suggest that these are best undertaken by a general practitioner who is not the patient’s own general practitioner. While we appreciate that MSD is keen to avoid an over-medicalised model, we believe that general practitioners and other health professionals (e.g. psychiatrists or psychologists where mental health concerns dominate) are best placed to undertake assessments that focus on how a patient’s health condition or disability impacts on their potential for employment.”



ADDENDUM 10 (fr. 07 July 2014):


There is very little in the way of information made available by the Ministry of Social Development (MSD), which would reveal how the reforms brought in under the ‘Social Security (Benefit Categories and Work Focus) Amendment Act 2013’ (amending the Social Security Act 1964) are now “working” or not.

A post on ‘Public Address’, under the heading ‘Speaker’ and by Michael Fletcher, published 29 June 2014, raises more questions than it gives answers.

The title is: “How is Government evaluating its welfare reforms, and why aren’t we allowed to know?”

Here is a link to that blog post:


Extracted text:

“Welfare reform is one of the Government’s flagship policies. By any standards it’s a major public policy initiative – arguably the biggest change to our welfare system since the introduction of the Domestic Purpose Benefit 40 years ago.”

“The impacts of the reforms are therefore a matter of major public interest. They affect not just the 300,000 or so people and their families who are on benefit but all of us, both as taxpayers and as people who may at some point need social security support ourselves. It’s disturbing therefore that the Ministry of Social Development is refusing to make public its welfare reform evaluation plan, the document which sets out how they intend to assess the reforms’ effects.”

“Last December Dr Simon Chapple from Otago University wrote to the Ministry asking for a copy of the evaluation plan and related material. He was told six relevant documents existed, including the Welfare Reform Evaluation Plan – July 2013, but that all were being withheld under provisions of the Official Information Act.”

“Twenty months after the first of the welfare reforms took effect and with an election just a few months away, we not only don’t know whether the reforms are improving New Zealanders’ wellbeing; we don’t even know how Government and the Ministry intends to measure whether or not they are. The reforms are in large part based on a strategy that one previous head of Work and Income was said to have described as ‘shaking the tree’ – imposing conditions and obligations on beneficiaries that make it harder to stay on (or get onto) a benefit.”

“So why is the Ministry of Social Development hiding behind the Official Information Act to avoid telling us how they plan to do that? Are they only interested in cutting the fiscal liability?”


Check out the link provided, read the whole post, and also the many comments to it!



ADDENDUM 11 (30 JULY 2014):


It is of greatest concern, that the apparent cooperation between the Ministry of Social Development, their Principal Health Advisor Dr David Bratt, and Professor Mansel Aylward from the ‘Centre for Psychosocial and Disability Research’ (formerly “UNUMProvident Centre for Psychosocial and Disability Research”), based at Cardiff University in Wales is continuing unabated!

Dr David Bratt, a strong propagator of the ideology that sick and disabled are best helped by putting them into any forms of “suitable paid work”, following controversial UK professor Mansel Aylwards ideas that most sickness and disability is only in the mind of people, has been to Europe, as part of a kind of New Zealand CORPORATE HEALTH REPRESENTATIVES trip to London, Brussels and Paris, keen to “learn more” about new findings and proposals about INTEGRATED CARE, and possibly also about how their own radical ideas of the “health benefits of work” can be further justified and promoted.


See some details here, from: GeneralPractice NZ – Visit to Europe, with Dr Bratt included, and their programme:

Click to access 2014-Masterclass-Programme-PARIS-FINAL.pdf

Read some extracted details published in the program published by: ‘General Practice NZ – 2014 Integrated Care Masterclass’:

“The focus of this Masterclass is to spend time together examining, discussing and learning about integrated care policies, processes and implementation internationally by working with the Nuffield Trust in England, attending an international conference on integrated care in Brussels and visiting sites in the Netherlands.”



* Whole-system / whole-sector reforms towards integrated care
* Policy examination – what’s happening to take integrated care forward in England, Netherlands (plus other European countries) – policy review and critique
* Examination of drivers for integrated care, especially economics
* Site visits, specifically to look at primary/community care integration and also aged care/long-term care (or combined)


Members of the group traveling to Europe were:





Dr Andrew Miller, GP and Chair, Manaia PHO

Dr Nick Chamberlain CEO, Northland DHB

Dr Neil Hefford, GP Clinical Leader, ProCare Health

Dr Campbell Brebner GP and Clinical Leader, Counties Manukau DHB

Loretta Hansen, CEO, East Health

Barbara Stevens CEO, Auckland PHO

Dr Debbie Holdsworth, Director of Funding, Auckland and Waitemata DHBs



Liz Stockley, CEO, Health Hawkes Bay

Adri Isbister CEO, Radius Medical Group

Dr Mark Peterson, GP and CMO Primary Care, Hawkes Bay DHB

Martin Hefford CEO, Compass Health

Melissa Simpson, Clinical Nurse Leader, Compass Health

Jude MacDonald CEO, Whanganui Regional Health Network

Dr David Bratt GP and Principal Health Advisor, MSD

Helen Morgan-Banda CEO, Royal NZ College of General Practitioners

Lee Hohaia CEO, Pharmacy Guild of NZ Inc

Dr Chris Masters GP and Managing Partner, Ropata Medical Centre

Dr Jeff Lowe GP, Karori Medical Centre TBC



Dr Ros Gellatly, GP, Marlborough PHO, Nelson Marlborough DHB, Clinical Adviser (Electives), National Health Board

Dr Simon Wynn -Thomas Senior Clinical Leader, Pegasus Health


While that trip may not be quite so controversial, Dr Bratt has made another, extensive trip to the UK also, meeting with Mansel Aylward and other “experts” in Wales and elsewhere in the UK:


Public Health Wales and Cardiff Uni visits:

See the ‘Chair Report’ from June 2014, from Public Health Wales:

Click to access 32%2002%20Chair%20report%20v1.pdf



Chair Report – June 2014 “Purpose of Document:
The purpose of this paper is to provide the Public Health Wales Board with a written update supplemented, as necessary by a verbal update on the day. The Report includes information on a number of strategic developments and other issues for information.”

“Author: Professor Sir Mansel Aylward CB and Gemma Trigg, Personal Assistant
Date: 16 June 2014″

Distribution: Public Health Wales Board

“The purpose of this paper is to provide the Public Health Wales Board with a written update, which includes information on a number of strategic developments and issues.”



11 Visit from Dr David Bratt

During May 2014 we arranged a study tour for Dr David Bratt. Dr Bratt is Chief Medical Advisor, New Zealand Ministry for Social Development and Principal Medical Advisor to Minister, the Hon Paula Bennett. Board Members had the opportunity of meeting Dr Bratt when he joined us for lunch at the last Informal Board meeting. During his visit Dr Bratt met a number of key people from the Welsh Government including the Chief Medical Officer, Minister for Health and Social Services, Minister for Economy, Science and Transport. He also had meetings with Cardiff University and the University of South Wales. He visited GP surgeries in Swansea. I also helped Dr Bratt in arranging meetings with colleagues in England with particular interests in Occupational Health and Assessment of Disability and Capacity for Work.



Dr David Bratt is clearly intent on, and also commissioned by the NZ government, to engage further with selected UK “experts” that have formerly been on the payroll of UNUM Provident, to obtain more “training”, information and whatever “evidence”, to continue with the adopted agenda to dis-entitle sick and disabled from any deserved welfare, ACC or insurance payment support, and to pressure them to try and take on any kind of hypothetically “suitable” employment, so COSTS are saved. Here we have yet more evidence of that controversial UK professor Mansel Aylward and his bizarre “research centre” being allowed to influence welfare and health policy in New Zealand!

This is extremely worrying, as all the involved parties appear to stubbornly and resolutely ignore any justified criticism that has been raised about the way welfare and related reforms have been conducted in the UK and here in New Zealand. People affected must be very seriously concerned about what is going on, and what the wider public is not aware of, and is NOT being informed about.


See the attached PDF files downloaded from the internet for more details and evidence about Dr Bratt’s latest “adventures”!

Gen. Practice NZ, 2014-Masterclass-Programme-PARIS-FINAL

NPHS, NHS, WALES, Chair Report 06-2014, Aylward – Bratt contacts, 32 02 Chair report v1, d-load, 29.07.2014

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