9 Dec 2019

Health minister slammed after Napier and Hawke's Bay lose DHB spot

6:09 pm on 9 December 2019

A lack of representation for Napier and Central Hawke's Bay on the newly appointed Hawke's Bay District Health Board is "concerning" and "disappointing", their mayors say.

Napier mayorial candidate Kirsten Wise

Napier Mayor Kirsten Wise Photo: RNZ / Anusha Bradley

The health minister confirmed on Friday his four appointments, including the chair and deputy chair to the DHB, to join the eight board members elected during the local body elections in October.

After no candidates from Napier and Central Hawke's Bay were elected, Napier Mayor Kirsten Wise and Central Hawke's Bay Mayor Alex Walker wrote to the Health Minister David Clark requesting he appoint someone from their areas to the board to ensure they were represented.

However, their pleas have fallen on deaf ears. Napier, which had previously three board members, will now have none. Central Hawke's Bay will also have none.

"It's really concerning and disappointing that we have no representation. We still have members of our community that are still reeling from the loss of the Napier hospital and there is concern about the level of service being delivered at the Wellesley Rd health centre.

"It's just another blow really. A number of people are left feeling like we don't have a voice," Ms Wise said. \

Napier hospital was closed in 1998. The city's 70,000 population had since been served by the Napier Health Centre, which provided after-hours care, and the Hawke's Bay Hospital in Hastings.

The lack of representation on the DHB was also worrying for Central Hawke's Bay, its Mr Walker said.

"Almost a year ago, I went into fight for our services not being cut, we had hospital beds in Waipukurau that were going to be closed over the holiday period and the community fought back, so that's why we need representation on the board so things like this don't happen again.

Mayor Alex Walker

Central Hawke's Bay Mayor Alex Walker Photo: Central Hawke's Bay District Council

"Our population is largely rural, we have complex health needs, an ageing population, a significant percentage of Māori in our population and we have communities that are at least an hour's drive from the centralised health service. So, the decisions that the health board makes are incredibly important to our people."

Both mayors would be writing to the health minister to express their concerns and both had also raised the issue with the DHB's new chair Shayne Walker.

Ms Walker did not return calls from RNZ.

Tukituki MP Lawrence Yule said Dr Clark had left Napier "out in the cold" by not appointing a representative.

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

"This will be incredibly disappointing for Napier. They are only just getting over the loss of their hospital and are still advocating for better health services. No longer having any DHB representation will only add to the frustration.

"The DHB system is set up with ministerial appointments to fill cultural, geographical and skill gaps.

"Dr Clark has publicly stated his wish to have more diversity in governance positions, but in the process he's left out an entire city. The local Labour MP for Napier is a senior Cabinet minister, yet let his colleague forgets his own electorate.

"There is also no representative from central Hawke's Bay, despite Mayor Alex Walker asking for one. Once again rural interests are being largely ignored by this government.

"The entire process by Minister Clark has been a sham. The question has to be asked, if the minister can ignore the health interests of an entire city, what else can he ignore?"

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