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DHBs – dismal health boards?

Auckland – Two years ago, Heather Simpson, ex-Prime Minister Helen Clark’s chief of staff, was tasked with leading a massive review into the New Zealand health and disability sector, with pretty much every aspect of it on the table.

The report was released yesterday and  the biggest proposals for changes related to the district health boards.

Currently, there are 20 DHBs around the country and the Simpson report proposes that number be reduced to between eight to 12 over a five-year period.

Pharmaceutical specialist Sir Ray Avery wants to know if Heather Simpson’s recommendations are on the money and can Health Minister David Clark deliver on the report’s promises.

“Yes and no. Heather’s report is right on the money. The report highlights the dysfunctionality of the current secular DHBs which  operate as independent competitive oligarchs and do not provide a holistic–integrated New Zealand healthcare system,” he says.

The report also highlights the fact that DHBs are spending less money on non-clinical services such as infrastructure and clinical supplies, than 10 years ago.

“Our national DHB healthcare system is a shame. If you are Maori, then you are twice as likely to die in a DHB managed hospital from a preventable death than a non-Maori person.

“So could minister Clark successfully implement the recommendations tabled in Heathers report – not likely.

“In 2017 David Clark was dismayed at the DHBs’ performance across the sector. He said resignations may be accepted if DHB chairs aren’t on the same wave length as the new government.

“Dr Clark said he was very seriously considering asking for resignation letters and would make a decision shortly. It’s 2020 and nothing has changed. David Clark has failed to deliver.

“As chair of the New Zealand Health Innovation Hub, I tried unsuccessfully to get our all DHBs to work together to come up with solutions to address our appalling rates of hospital acquired infections.

“But I resigned as chair because none of the DHBs were prepared to work with each other.

“If we want good health for all our people, then we need to listen and act to implement Heather Simpson’s recommendations. If we are team of five million, we need to start acting like one,” Sir Ray says.

For further information contact Make Lemonade editor-in-chief Kip Brook on 0275 030188


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