David Clark accused of silencing DHB staff over Middlemore

Newshub has obtained a voicemail and emails which suggest the Health Minister tried to gag senior staff talking publicly about the state of embattled Middlemore Hospital.

In one case he even appeared to promise a board member, who he'd sacked, another job if they shut up.

"I notice more and more getting reported that is really not helping at all, and I'm hopeful that there won't be much more commentary," Health Minister David Clark said in a voicemail to District Health Board chair Rabin Rabindran.

"My fear is that if you and I keep commenting, the story keeps ticking along. I'd rather not have distraction about who said what when."

However Mr Clark denies this, saying he was "absolutely not" trying to stop board members from speaking out.

"There were a lot of conversations happening through the media and that meant there wasn't clear communication about what was going on, and that's unhelpful," he told Newshub.

The voicemail was left on April 18th, two weeks after he sacked Mr Rabindran. In the same voicemail, Mr Clark offered him a new job.

"I would consider you for further appointments because I think that sends a message."

Several buildings at the hospital, located in south Auckland, have serious rot and mould problems, posing health risks to staff and patients.

National MP Jami-Lee Ross says Mr Clark was "dangling [a job] to gag [Rabindran] and silence him".

Mr Clark told Newshub he "absolutely rejects" this claim.

A trail of emails obtained by Newshub show DHB acting CEO Gloria Johnson wanted to release information to get their side of the story across because their reputations were being damaged.

A board member emailed Dr Johnson, concerned that the Minister's office was pressuring the DHB about what they could and couldn't say.

"If the minister is accusing us of covering something up we need to address that quickly and directly," the email read.

"They are saying they need more time…and want us [especially] me to 'suck it up'."

Mr Clark says he is not aware of anyone being told to "suck it up" and is adamant he's done nothing wrong.

However, it's clear that senior staff at the DHB were angry with the accusations being made by Mr Clark, and felt gagged.