We don’t cover the Capital and Coast District Health Board as much as we should. So it’s great have Labour’s first term DHB member David Choat join the WCC Soapbox as he seeks reelection. Questions or comments for David can be left below. If you want to contribute your own post you can submit pieces here.
Care Not Cuts on the DHB
As a current Board member, I’ve been a vocal advocate of increasing funding and a vocal opponent of cuts.
I see my role on the DHB as being part of a wider campaign against this government’s cuts in funding to health – impacting on areas ranging from aged care and mental health to maternity services and health promotion – and the further contracting-out of important services like laundry and food.
Highlighting and resisting underfunding is a vital role for the elected governors at our DHB.
We need to eliminate the preventable illnesses that disadvantage children for life and reduce waiting times for surgery, doctors and hospital appointments.
The sad and unnecessary decline in our district – Wellington, Porirua and Kapiti – has been documented in an insightful and unique critique of our Board by Professor Don Matheson of Massey’s Centre for Public Health Research. He called it From Great to Good.
We must listen to Don Matheson – and we must listen to nurses, doctors and other health workers about how to provide the best service.
I am also clear that workers in the DHB and in those providers we contract to must be paid at least a living wage.
I’ve worked to highlight and resist cuts – whether it’s pushing out the decision on our laundry or forcing a vote on the cuts to Newtown Union Health Service.
Frankly, I’ve had mixed success, and you have to know when to pick your battles. But I’m proud to say I’ve never voted to support any cut to health services.
I’ve also opposed the Board’s use of secret discussions, particularly where the proper legal test have not been met. They disempower communities and make the impact of cuts easier to hide. If re-elected, I will keep challenging this practice.
I also think it’s really important to report to the public about the actions of the DHB. I’ve run a regular blog where I have reported on Board decisions – carenotcuts.org.nz . It was a bit of an experiment, really, in seeking better public involvement and providing some accountability back to my voters. But I have to say, I’ve found the feedback and contact with health sector people it has generated invaluable.
I’m standing as candidate for the Labour Party and, if re-elected, I want to continue to campaign against the austerity agenda. I want to push for the new Board to challenge the Minister in 2014 with an annual plan that restores funding to much-needed services, rather than makes further cuts.
I stand by my view that being a DHB Board member is a political role. The DHB makes decisions about spending priorities for public money – this is always political! And that’s why we have an election.