DHB revamp a step forward, but more needs to be done - expert

David Clark.
David Clark. Photo credit: Getty

The Government is being applauded for including a wide range of people in its district health board re-vamp.

It has made 76 new appointments to DHBs to help strengthen their leadership.

"Nine years of underfunding and neglect has taken its toll - with rundown hospitals, workforces that have been stretched too thinly and worsening DHB deficits since 2013," Health Minister David Clark said.

"It will take time to rebuild our public health service. DHB chairs and boards are at the heart of this work. DHB board governance is not an easy job. It requires leadership, focus, a strong skillset and a commitment to delivering high quality care for all New Zealanders."

Among the 76 appointees are 13 new chairs. Almost half of the new appointments - 37 - are women, and there are now four Māori board chairs - in 2016 there were none.

Association of Salaried Medical Specialists spokesperson Ian Powell says it is a step forward.

"It's good to see that there's a diversity - increasing number of women as chairs and deputies, and similarly Māori ." 

Powell says it is needed now.

"The Minister of Health has neglected that, and we're hoping that these new board chairs will fill the vacuum and provide leadership to sharply focus on addressing the shortage of hospital specialists in our public hospitals."

But Powell says without resolving worker shortages in hospitals, not much will change. 

"It's going to require a lot more. Until we resolve our workforce shortages in our public hospitals, we're not even going to get off the ground."

Lawrence Yule with former MP Bill English.
Lawrence Yule with former MP Bill English. Photo credit: Getty

National has criticised the new appointments as a "sham", saying there's now no one from Napier on the Hawke's Bay DHB.

"Napier is a city of almost 70,000 people and had three representatives on the previous DHB," said local MP Lawrence Yule.

"Despite there being 11 members on the Hawke's Bay DHB, four of which are appointed by the minister, there will be no representative for Napier."

He said it's more evidence the Government is ignoring rural regions.