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DSC calls for shake-up of DHBs

Sunday 2 November 2008

DSC calls for shake-up of DHBs

Democrats for Social Credit leader Stephnie de Ruyter has called for a shake-up of the way in which District Health Boards are elected and appointed. "Following new policy passed at the Democrats for Social Credit annual conference, we would replace the present boards of 4 government-appointed members and 7 publicly elected members with 8 elected members, 5 chosen by the public and three by health professionals, with only one government-appointed member" she said.

The ineffectiveness of the present boards was highlighted by former Canterbury DHB board member, Christchurch surgeon Philip Bagshaw, when in deciding not to stand for re-election in 2004 he described DHBs as "undemocratic and dysfunctional".

DSC Health Spokesman and a twice-elected DHB member David Tranter believes that little has changed since 2004 except that the restrictions on board members' freedom have possibly increased.

DSC policy would also end the practice of board chairs being appointed by government, and sometimes appointed from outside a DHB's region.

"Under DSC policy all candidates would have to live within the district served by the board and both the chair and deputy would be elected by the board members from amongst themselves" Mr. Tranter said.

"Our policy would also remove the present heavy restrictions on board members communicating with health professionals and the public, and would require boards to consider the wider social aspects of centralising services. The rural sector's huge contribution to the nation's economy deserves far better than the systematic closure of rural health facilities of the past three decades" he said.

In recalling Annette King's claim when introducing elected boards that they would make health issues "more open and accountable", Stephnie de Ruyter commented that the obvious failure of the boards to do so necessitates a radical change in the way they operate.

"The current ruling that even elected board members are responsible solely to the Minister of Health and not to the people who elected them is not just absurd but is a blot upon the democratic process. Our party is the only one which has a policy to remove the veil of secrecy and political control from DHB boards" Ms de Ruyter concluded.


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