Our health service needs more funding, not cuts. The Board must do its best with the funding provided. But it has a duty to make it clear to Government: if more is cut, patients will suffer. Waiting times will be longer and patients less safe. Cuts to illness prevention programmes mean even more patients putting stress on the system.
Everyone, young and old, throughout our region deserves high quality health services. Too many children are getting infectious diseases. The Board must listen to nurses, doctors and other health professionals and the communities they serve. The cuts in mental health and elderly home support must be reversed immediately.
I live in Wellington with my partner Fleur and 5 month old son Zach. I bring 15 years of experience in education, social development and health. I’ll work hard for better services, and tell the truth to the public about Board effectiveness and support needed from government.
Top 5 Issues
- Funding adequacy
The current government has cut back health funding increases to fund tax cuts, and the Capital and Coast community has been particularly hard-hit. The DHB’s well-respected chief executive Ken Whelan recently resigned, saying he could not cut any more: “I cannot see where any more major efficiency can come from without negatively impacting on services.” A Dominion Post editorial has said, “unless the Government changes its mind, health board administrators will have no option but to reduce the quantity or quality of services on offer to residents of the Wellington region”. This is not acceptable.
The District Health Board has to manage its finances prudently, and that can be mean hard decisions. We also need to work for smart solutions to the charges for building the New Regional Hospital and ensure we are properly funded to act as a tertiary referral centre for the whole region.
But the Board also needs to be clear, honest and direct with the Minister of Health and you the public about the level of funding that is needed to adequately address our community’s health – and what the consequences will be if that is not met. I commit to ensuring this.
- Addressing health inequalities
The District Health Board needs to be continually aware of health inequalities within the communities it serves and invest in services in a way that helps to address them. We know that people in poorer communities suffer poorer health than those who are wealthier. This is compounded through lower access to or take-up of health services – poorer communities have a higher rate of hospitalisations that would have been avoidable through good primary care or outpatient care. As a consequence, as New Zealand has become a more unequal society over the 1980s and 1990s, disparities have widened – new research published in the New Zealand Medical Journal shows the gap in life expectancy between low income and high income widened by 2.1 years for males and 1.4 years for females between 1981 and 2001.
At a time of tight budgets, it is vital for the Board to prioritise the preservation and expansion of initiatives that have been shown to reduce health inequalities. These will tend to include community health, health promotion and illness prevention, and measures to make primary health care more accessible in poorer communities.
- Giving priority to child health
Sadly, inequalities have become particularly severe in child health, where New Zealand compares poorly internationally. The Public Health Advisory Committee describes some of New Zealand’s disease patterns among children as “closer to those of developing countries”. The Capital and Coast community is by no means immune to these disparities: Porirua children are admitted to hospital for serious respiratory and skin infections at twice the rate of Wellington children. Even worse, children living in Eastern Porirua (Cannon’s Creek and Waitangirua) have the highest rate of rheumatic fever in New Zealand.
I support the development of a plan of action to address child health disparities in high need communities, which will require meaningful additional investment.
- Listening to the whole range of health professionals
District Health Board members have a governance role and a duty to reflect the priorities and needs of the communities they serve. Obviously that doesn't mean micro-managing the organisation or making clinical decisions. To do this, we need to respect and listen to the health professionals within the organisation and in the community - and to insist that DHB managers do the same. That means nurses, doctors, rehabilitation professionals, midwives, heath promotion workers, social workers, cleaners and all the people working together to ensure your care is of an excellent standard.
- Being connected with the community
Legislation currently before parliament would change some of the ways that District Health Boards operate. One of the troubling aspects is a move to remove communities’ rights to consultation when the boards’ annual plans are developed. I’m committed to meaningful community consultation -- whether the law requires it or not. And I think we need to develop better and more modern ways to reach out to a wide range of people and involve them in the decisions that are being made about health services in their communities. If elected, I’ll use my website – carenotcuts.org.nz – to keep people informed about the issues the board is grappling with and the debates we’re having in (the public parts of) our meetings. And I’ll be pushing for the whole board – and the media – to be promoting stronger engagement with you the public with what we’re doing, particularly when contentious decisions are being taken.
Conflicts of Interest
To the best of my knowledge and belief, I have no conflicts of interest with the Capital and Coast District Health Board (CCDHB) at the date of my notice of consent to being nominated as a candidate for membership of the board of the CCDHB, and I do not believe that any such conflicts of interest are likely to arise in future.
Authorised by F Fitzsimons of 608/120 Courtenay Place, Wellington
Questions answered by David Choat
David Choat's Reply
Thanks for your question, Katherine.
I\'m passionate about resisting further service cuts at Capital & Coast and trying to reverse those that have already occurred. However, I realise that issues around tertiary services which are only provided at a few specialistic centres across the country, like paediatric oncology, can be a bit more complicated. And I\'m also aware that the previous board gave careful and lengthy consideration to trying to achieving the best arrangement they could for our region.
But this new arrangement will require some vulnerable children and their families to travel at a difficult and stressful time. My commitment to you is that, if elected, I will seek a briefing from DHB management for the new members of the Board on the details of the arrangement, and look into whether (particular if the government can be persuaded to relent on its present under-funding) it is possible to make changes to reduce the need for Capital & Coast residents to travel for paediatric oncology services.
If elected, I\'d also be happy to meet with you and other concerned parents to get a better understanding of this issue.\r\n check out other candidate's answers
Results - Final
- Judith Aitken
- Helene Ritchie
- Margaret Faulkner
- Barbara Donaldson
- David Choat
- Virginia Hope
- Peter Roberts
- Donald Urquhart-Hay
- Camila Chin
- Nigel Wilson
- Russell Franklin
- John Apanowicz
- Maureen Gillon
- Elizabeth Anderson
- Andrew Holmes
- David Scott
- Maureen Cahill
- Peter Kelly
- Malakai Jiko
- Jack Wood