Lincoln Tan

Lincoln Tan is the New Zealand Herald’s diversity, ethnic affairs and immigration senior reporter.

Local elections 2013: Community health push priority for new boards

Douglas Armstrong, a civil engineer, is pledging to "deploy the maximum resources possible to frontline staff" and reduce waiting times for all services. Photo / Kellie Blizard
Douglas Armstrong, a civil engineer, is pledging to "deploy the maximum resources possible to frontline staff" and reduce waiting times for all services. Photo / Kellie Blizard

Increasing understanding of Maori and Pacific health, more funding for community health and deploying maximum resources to frontline staff are among the goals for new members on Auckland's district health boards.

More than 80 candidates stood for the 21 seats in the Auckland health elections, with the Waitemata seats most hotly contested (35), followed by Auckland (27) and Counties Manukau (19).

Douglas Armstrong, an independent candidate with links to the Communities & Ratepayers group, won his seat under the single transferable voting system used in the election at the expense of Susan Buckland, a journalist.

All incumbents were re-elected at Waitemata, but three newcomers will feature on the Counties Manukau board, where only four sitting members were seeking re-election.

Mr Armstrong, a civil engineer, is pledging to "deploy the maximum resources possible to frontline staff" and reduce waiting times for all services.

Both Counties Manukau and Auckland DHBs met most of the government's primary care targets, although a June report revealed they fell short on offering smokers help to quit when they visited a general practice.

The three new faces on the Counties Manukau board are Labour's Apulu Reece Autagavaia, Team Health's Kathy Maxwell and Team Franklin's Dianne Glenn.

Mr Autagavaia, a lawyer, says a top issue is the need to increase the health knowledge and understanding of Maori and Pacific people, and participation at all levels of the health sector.

Ms Maxwell, a community pharmacist who runs her own business, will be pushing for more funding for community health "but not build more hospitals".

Ms Glenn, who had previously represented Franklin and Papakura on the Auckland Regional Council, will be seeking a review of priorities for state funding of elective surgery and home-based care for the disabled.

Missing out is long-serving secretary of the Auckland board Ian Bell, who was chasing an elected seat at Counties Manukau board.

Ian Ward, who stood on an Independent Health ticket, did not win a seat but may well be returned as a board member through a ministerial appointment.

The former chief finance officer also failed in the previous election, but was appointed to the board by the Minister of Health.

The Ministry of Health said that up to four members may be appointed by the minister to "fill any gaps in the expertise needed for the DHB to best achieve its functions and objectives".

- NZ Herald

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