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Board Members Must Understand the Role of NGOs

Media Release
14 October 2001

Integration the Key for Public Health Services

Board Members Must Understand the Role of NGOs

The new District Health Board members around New Zealand are being urged to focus on the integration of hospital and non-hospital services and to understand that there is more to representing communities than allocating funds.

Dr Gerry Walmisley, chief executive of the Richmond Fellowship, says it became clear during the election campaign that many candidates were pre-occupied with how to make funding go around.

“Our plea to elected representatives is to move beyond the cutting of the cake. Effective representation requires an understanding of the current public health model and the relationship between hospital services and community based services, and in particular, the role of non-governmental organisations (NGOs). Around 80% of all mental health services are now delivered outside of the hospital environment by organisations such as ours and we need to work closely with the health boards to provide an integrated service.”

“Many candidates appeared to have a single agenda, when the overwhelming need is to approach the health system as an integrated way in which hospitals do what they do best, and specialist providers are allowed to innovate and demonstrate that their services actually work.”

Richmond Fellowship is a major provider of community health services and in recent years has applied the same successful approach to clients with behavioural issues. Specialist services have been developed for a range of purchasers including the Ministry of Health, Crown Public Health, ACC, District Health Services and the Department of Work and Income.

Dr Walmisley said there was no doubt that the DHB model had imposed huge costs on NGO providers. “Many of these providers have been simply unable to survive in this environment, and we believe there will be more who collapse under the weight of compliance costs and increased costs for travel, insurances, reporting and business development.”

Dr Walmisley says elected representatives should be under no illustion about the complexity of the their task. In some areas Health Boards had inherited a mess, with growing deficits and incomplete documentation for many of the current contracts with NGO providers.


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