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Notifying DHB Chairs of Media Interest

Notifying DHB Chairs of media interest fine as long as it’s not an attempt to control debate

“It’s reasonable to expect members of district health boards to tell their Chairs they’re going to talk to the media – but only if time permits and if this ‘heads up’ is not then used to dampen health debate,” says Ian Powell, Executive Director of the Association of Salaried Medical Specialists (ASMS).

He was commenting on reports that elected MidCentral District Health Board members can now be accused of breaching the code of conduct if they speak to media without first telling the DHB’s Chair:

“Advising the Board chair should only be by way of notification, rather than to seek permission, unless confidentiality is at risk.

“Sometimes when a Board member is contacted by the media for comment there is not enough time to contact their Chair. Sometimes the Board Chair can be difficult to contact” says Mr Powell.

“We’ve seen a chilling of robust debate in the health sector in recent years and we’d certainly be concerned if elected DHB Board members felt unable to speak out about health issues that matter to their local communities.

“Boards around the country are grappling with the consequences of under-funding and people languishing while waiting for treatment. It is helpful to hear what Board members have to say about these issues, even when their insights cause political discomfort.”


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