Canterbury DHB CEO farewelled with guard of honour from hundreds of supporters

The Canterbury District Health Board (DHB) chief executive was farewelled from his position on Wednesday by hundreds of people in a guard of honour.

David Meates has been in the job for 11 years, and he is one of seven executives to resign amid the DHB's $180 million deficit. There are just four people left on the board.

Among the staff and supporters who formed a guard of honour for him was 91-year-old Mary Harding, who lined up to say thank you.

The executive exodus as a result of its financial situation sparked two staff protests, and now Christchurch Hospital's chief of medicine David Smyth is calling for an inquiry.

"It should've happened already. It should've happened the moment the fourth resignation went in. Someone should've stepped back saying what's happening here at CDHB, we've got seven [that have left] now," he said.

But Health Minister Chris Hipkins says otherwise.

"It wouldn't necessarily prompt an inquiry but it certainly prompted Government action," he said.

Smyth has concerns about what the financial deficit might mean for other hospital services.

"If our services are slashed and slashed probably the most vulnerable people will be people in the community, fragile elderly people, and maybe we won't be able to provide such a great service for the whole of the South Island," he said.

The DHB is now left with one more problem - finding a new chief executive.