No Place On DHBs For 'Single-Issue' Advocates
26 July 2001 Media Statement
No Place On District Health Boards For 'Single-Issue' Advocates
Health Minister Annette King says District Health Boards need members who have a genuine interest in a wide range of health issues.
Nominations for the DHB elections open today, July 27, and close at noon on 24 August. DHB elections will coincide with the local government elections on October 13.
Major health service decisions would now become the responsibility of individual communities, and Mrs King said it was important that DHBs had "a local voice".
"But candidates need to be clear that we do not want 'single-issue' people or advocates for any one group in society," she said.
"All members of the DHBs will be responsible for the health of the whole population. I hope that electors will be looking for people who have the objectivity and integrity to balance any of their own particular interests with the wider health and disability needs of the community."
Successive governments have appointed health boards, and Mrs King believes many have worked through difficult times and served with great diligence. She says board members have been extremely competent, and most have worked very hard.
“But it is time that local communities again elect the people they want to run local health services – they belong to the people after all.
“We are going to need many of the skills that past and current board members have, but we would like to see the boards strengthened by a greater mix of backgrounds and skills.
“The perspective of many cultural groups in our society would be very valuable on the boards. I have great respect for Maori, Pacific, Asian and other cultures and, when such people are represented, the boards will be stronger and more in touch with the health needs of the community."
Mrs King said she would like to see a range of people stand, because the people whose health was the poorest needed greater representation.
"Ideally the DHBs need members with skills in governance, health, community services, disability support and business. To gather all these skills, and others, will mean board members need to come from a wide variety of backgrounds," she said.
It would also be good to see more women standing for election. "Although we have improved the gender balance over the last year, there are still more than twice as many men on the district health boards as women. I’d like to see a better range of ages too – we need younger board members as well as more senior citizens."
This year the first-past-the-post system of voting for local body election includes DHB constituencies. This means there is provision for board members to be elected by local communities and special interest groups, and it allows rural areas to be represented.
“The system isn’t perfect, but it will help to ensure that the members come from a wide cross-section of the community,” Mrs King said.
“There are many people in our communities who could be excellent district health board members. I urge you to stand yourself or to support the nominations of the people you would like to see helping to make health service decisions.”
More information on being a candidate can be obtained by phoning free 0800 Participate (0800 727 842), the local DHB, the local council Electoral Officer, or visit the Ministry of Health’s website www.moh.govt.nz/electionsdhb
The District Health Boards were established in January 2001 with initial board members appointed by Government. The boards, which replaced a succession of earlier health organisations (Hospital and Health Service Boards, Crown Health Enterprises, Area Health Boards and Hospital Boards), are also progressively assuming a number of the roles formerly undertaken by the Health Funding Authority.
There are 21 District Health Boards throughout the country and each is responsible for providing or funding healthcare services for the populations of their specific geographical area. This includes health and disability services, health planning, health promotion and protection, public hospitals and a range of primary, secondary and tertiary services. Budgets for the various boards will be determined on a population based formula.
The role of the board is to implement the Government’s health and disability strategies and involves strategic decision making, directing the organisation and holding management accountable for the services provided.
In October members of the District Health Boards will be elected by postal vote (at the same time as local body elections). This is the first time in over ten years the public has had the opportunity to decide the makeup of their health providers. Seven members across a number of constituencies will be elected to each of the 21 District Health Boards. The Health Minister will appoint a further four members - making a total of 11 members on each board. The Minister of Health must ensure there are at least two Maori on each board – either by election or appointment.
From 27 July until noon on 24 August (when nominations close) members of the public will have the opportunity to stand for election to the District Health Boards.
District Health Boards are community focused and serve their communities best on health and disability issues when they have a good balance and mix of members. The Government believes that when Maori, Pacific, Asian and other cultures are represented, the boards will be stronger and more in touch with health needs of their communities. It considers that the people in society whose health is poorest need to be represented on the boards and people from all cultures or backgrounds are encouraged to stand for election.
Successful candidates will be expected to help the board collectively govern (not manage) the District Health Board and health services for all the people of the district. Their perspectives should be wide and not focused on any particular interest or group.
The Government is hopeful people with skills in governance, health, community services, disability support and business will stand for the boards.
Boards are elected by postal vote - in conjunction with local body elections. Election papers go out in late September and must be in by noon on 13 October. Candidates take up their roles in December and are expected to serve for three years. They can re-stand for election after this term.
Candidates must be over 18 years old, a New Zealand citizen or a permanent resident in New Zealand and currently enrolled as a parliamentary elector. Candidates do not have to live in the District Health Board in which they stand and can be a candidate even if employed by a District Health Board – but any conflicts of interest must be publicly stated.
A deposit of $200 is required prior to nomination but this will be refunded if a minimum number of votes are obtained.
Candidates can prepare a profile, which can include a photograph, describing their experience and intentions. The profiles will be sent out by the Electoral Officer with the voting papers (and conflict of interest statements) and can be in English and Maori or English and any other language - with a maximum of 150 words allowed (300 if in Maori and English).
Candidates need to be able to give at least 60 days per year to board work. The new boards start work in December 2001. Some training to prepare for board duties will be available.
Payment to board members currently ranges from $16,000 to $27,000 annually (depending on the District Health Board) - the chair and deputy chair are paid more. In addition board members receive about $250 per meeting for each statutory board committee they serve on and reasonable expenses (eg travel costs) are also paid.