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Dunkerley standing for HB health board

Helping people stay well in the first place, ensuring health equity for disadvantaged communities, and making sure resources are used in the best possible way are top priorities for sitting Hawke’s Bay District Health Board member Peter Dunkerley.

The retired pharmacist is re-standing for the health board in the upcoming Local Government elections, bringing experience and stability to the table.

“We have almost half of the board not re-standing for election which means we will have some welcome new faces around the decision-making table. That does mean, however, that we do need some of the old heads, who bring continuity and stability,” says Mr Dunkerley.

Over the last term the board has put in place very strong plans to further reduce health equity issues, he says. In particular, the board is in the midst of moving more services out into communities so people can access them more easily.

“It is widely acknowledged that we need to do more for Maori health, that we have service access issues in our more remote communities, and that we need to ensure we have good health services for the elderly.”

Mr Dunkerley says ensuring that people who live in Hawke’s Bay’s outlying communities, many several hours drive from main services, have good access to health services is essential.

“This is about equity. We must be able to help our people stay well and, when they do have health problems, be able to provide services close to where they live to help them to stay in their communities in as many circumstances as possible.”

Mr Dunkerley says the wider community needs to readjust its thinking with regard to the rapidly growing number of people in the retired age group.

“We tend to see them as a health problem tidal wave that’s coming towards us, but the vast majority of our older people are fit and able, and looking for something worthwhile to do.

“We need to re-think this. Our older people are time-rich and can be a real asset. There must be a constructive way that those who want to help keep our people well can contribute. That might be across a whole range of services that we know assist with health and well-being. We already have an amazing number of older volunteers carrying out very worthwhile work within our system. We can do more here.”

Also on his list of things to achieve is ensuring that surgical services across the region are used with maximum efficiency to enable more elective surgeries to be carried out.

“Again, this will particularly enable older people to stay well. If you have someone who is unable to see because of cataracts, or is immobilised by a hip that needs replacing, then you can end up with a spiral of health conditions if they are unable to get out and about to socialise and exercise.”

On the financial front, it is about “doing more with what we have”.

“While we will always be looking to increase funding, we must have a focus on getting the very best out of the money that we do have. This is not about increasing pressure on staff; it is about being very clever in the ways that we do spend money, and ensuring that we have the very best systems in place.”

Mr Dunkerley says there have been “real wins” and the momentum must continue. “Within the hospital campus, through excellent financial management, we have continued to grow our facilities. We have a new mental health facility, birthing unit, endoscopy unit and more operating theatres.

“Through targeted recruiting we have doubled the number of Maori in our hospital and community workforces and that number is still growing.

“We have integrated pharmacy into both hospital and community processes, ensuring that pharmacists are closely involved through the diagnosis, treatment and recovery phases.

Mr Dunkerley says the progress must continue. “For the good of our community, we must keep the momentum up.”

© Scoop Media

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