Dr. Nigel Murray came to Fraser Health from New Zealand. He's resigned to return there

Dr. Nigel Murray came to Fraser Health from New Zealand. He's resigned to return there

CEO leaves Fraser Health as big changes loom

Dr. Nigel Murray cites family reasons for return to New Zealand

Dr. Nigel Murray has stepped down as president and CEO of Fraser Health amid an extensive review that is expected to soon bring significant changes to the health region.

Murray served as the top administrator at Fraser for seven years and cited family reasons for returning to New Zealand, where he is in the running for a similar job.

No severance will be paid out because he’s resigning.

Dr. David Ostrow, the former CEO of Vancouver Coastal Health Authority, takes over as interim CEO of Fraser Health.

The announcement is the latest shakeup at Fraser, where the former board chair David Mitchell was removed in April by the provincial government.

The board has since been chaired by Wynne Powell, the longtime board chair of the Provincial Health Services Authority who also chairs B.C. Emergency Services.

Powell said the strategic review committee is finalizing its recommendations for improvements at Fraser.

He wouldn’t reveal details of the findings but suggested they point mainly to smarter use of Fraser’s budget allocation.

“The conclusion they came to is funding is not the major issue,” Powell said.

“It’s not just about change, it’s about helping drive better results and better outcomes. We’ve got to find a way to use the facilities in the best manner possible.”

Powell said he thinks there are opportunities for improvement in community care and long-term care in particular.

“There’s definitely got to be a refocusing of some of the moneys to help the system.”

Health Minister Terry Lake announced the review last fall in response to Fraser’s repeated failure to stay within its budget each year.

Lake at that time said the review could explore a redrawing of health authority boundaries.

Asked if Lower Mainland health authorities will be amalgamated now that Fraser is without a permanent CEO and board chair, Powell said he’s heard “that rumour” but has seen nothing to substantiate it.

Fraser and Vancouver Coastal already jointly procure various services and supplies to save money.

Powell also responded to criticism that the detailed findings of the review team won’t be released, but will instead be summarized within a new three-year strategic plan for Fraser.

He said the working papers of the committee are too complex for their public release to be helpful.

“It’s not a matter of them being hidden, it’s a matter of making sure they’re interpreted correctly,” he said.

During Murray’s seven years at Fraser, the health region’s budget climbed nearly 50 per cent, from $2.1 billion to $3.1 billion.

Even with the increase, local hospitals remain heavily congested and there’s been steady criticism that Fraser gets a lower per capita share of health funding compared to other regions.

Powell said it’s difficult to compare budgets of different health regions, because they perform different tasks.

He said the Vancouver Coastal and Provincial Health Services authorities spend enormous amounts on academic work and research that’s “essential” to improving health care and finding efficiencies.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Delta character - and former White Rock resident - Pansy May Stuttard inspects a loaded revolver in the cover photo for Jim Dwight and Gary Cullen’s fascinating biography, Lord don’t want me Devil won’t take me. Contributed photo
West Coast’s ‘Pistol-packin’ Pansy’ lives on in colourful biography

Infamous Delta character ended her days in White Rock and South Surrey

A science class at L.A. Matheson Secondary. March 2021. (Photo: Lauren Collins)
Reports of student attendance ‘dwindling’ at Surrey schools: teachers’ association

STA president said he’s heard from staff that students might not attend in-person for 4th quarter

Vancouver resident Beryl Pye was witness to a “concerning,” spontaneous dance party that spread throughout social groups at Kitsilano Beach on April 16. (Screen grab/Beryl Pye)
VIDEO: Dance party erupts at Vancouver’s Kitsilano Beach to the dismay of onlookers

‘It was a complete disregard for current COVID-19 public health orders,’ says Vancouver resident Beryl Pye

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland responds to a question during Question Period in the House of Commons Tuesday December 8, 2020 in Ottawa. The stage is set for arguably the most important federal budget in recent memory, as the Liberal government prepares to unveil its plan for Canada’s post-pandemic recovery even as a third wave of COVID-19 rages across the country. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Election reticence expected to temper political battle over federal budget

Opposition parties have laid out their own demands in the weeks leading up to the budget

Chilliwack Search and Rescue volunteers say that a call on April 17 on Vedder Mountain was affected by bikers who rode through the rescue site, throwing rocks onto members and the patient. (Chilliwack Search and Rescue image)
Chilliwack Search and Rescue team, and patient, sprayed with rocks and dirt during rescue

Volunteer crew speaks out after riders on Vedder Mountain show no courtesy at accident scene

File photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy
One man dead after shooting in Downtown Vancouver

This is Vancouver’s fifth homicide of the year

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A syringe is loaded with COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. to open up COVID vaccine registration to all B.C. residents 18+ in April

Registration does not equate to being able to book an appointment

(Black Press file photo).
UPDATED: Multiple stabbings at Vancouver Island bush party

Three youths hospitalized after an assault in Comox

Selina Robinson is shown in Coquitlam, B.C., on Friday November 17, 2017. British Columbia’s finance minister says her professional training as a family therapist helped her develop the New Democrat government’s first budget during the COVID-19 pandemic, which she will table Tuesday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. finance minister to table historic pandemic-challenged deficit budget

Budget aims to take care of people during pandemic while preparing for post-COVID-19 recovery, Robinson said

Police tape is shown in Toronto Tuesday, May 2, 2017. Statistics Canada says the country's crime rate ticked up again in 2018, for a fourth year in a row, though it was still lower than it was a decade ago. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy
CRIME STOPPERS: ‘Most wanted’ for the week of April 18

Crime Stoppers’ weekly list based on information provided by police investigators

Most Read