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DHB Secrecy Belies "Open and Accountable" Claims

Media Release
Thursday 21 July, 2005.

DHB Secrecy Belies "Open and Accountable" Claims

A survey carried out by the Democrats' social issues researcher David Tranter reveals an extraordinary amount of DHB business being done behind closed doors with the media and public excluded. This massively undermines Health Minister Annette King's assertion that the new boards would make the health system more "open and accountable". It also flies in the face of the statement by Wayne Brown, an official speaker at the Health Ministry's 2001 Wellington meeting with the first batch of elected board members when Mr. Brown told the new members that there was no need for in-committee discussions and that even financial matters were the public business since it was the public's money. The difficulty of obtaining the in-committee figures for 2004 from some DHBs and the extent to which many failed to comply with the time frames of the Official Information Act also raises questions as to why some of them still appear not to have clear means of dealing with such enquiries even after twelve years since the corporate offices were established Mr. Tranter said.

Most startling of all is the discrepancy between the DHBs concerning the amounts of in-committee business they do. No doubt Mrs. King will be pleased to cite the Auckland DHB's claim to have done no business in committee. Similarly with the Canterbury board at four items. However, from then on the picture is one of increasing secrecy culminating in the three most secretive boards being West Coast at 96 in-committee items, Otago at 112 and Hawkes Bay at 122 items discussed with the media and public excluded. The question must be asked as to why two of the largest boards, Auckland and Canterbury, providing far more complex services than small boards, claim to do so little business in secret while the West Coast as the smallest board in the country are the third most secretive. The attached table gives the results of the survey and demands an answer from Annette King as to why some boards need minimal in-committee discussions while others are totting up an incredible amount of board meeting time behind closed doors Mr. Tranter said.

(DHB in-committee statistics follow)

Number of items discussed in-committee by DHBs in the calendar year 2004;


Hawkes Bay 122
Otago 112
West Coast 96
Wairarapa 87
Bay of Plenty 82
Southland 72
Waikato 67
Lakes 60
Capital Coast 44
Taranaki 43
Waitemata 38
Timaru 36
Hutt Valley 32
Counties Manakau 30
Nelson Marlborough 29
Northland 28
Wanganui 19
Mid Central 16
Canterbury 4
Auckland 0

ENDS

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