Rotorua Daily Post health and business reporter

Advice sought on health hub conflicts

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The controversy continues over the health hub project which would see the current library rebuilt into a shared children's health hub. Photo / Andrew Warner
The controversy continues over the health hub project which would see the current library rebuilt into a shared children's health hub. Photo / Andrew Warner

Whether four Lakes District Health Board members should be allowed to take part in discussions and decisions around the proposed library and children's health hub is up for consideration at a board meeting today.

The four are Lyall Thurston, who is a trustee on the Rotorua Energy Charitable Trust which is donating money to the project, Rotorua district councillors Merepeka Raukawa-Tait and Charles Sturt, and Maggie Bentley, whose husband Peter is a district councillor. Board chairman Deryck Shaw said the board had sought clarification and guidance around potential conflicts of interest to make sure it reflected good practice.

The health hub project would see the current library rebuilt into a shared children's health hub and library. The project has an approved Rotorua Lakes Council budget of up to $8.8 million with the health board contributing $3.25 million for its part of the refit. The rest of the health board's $4 million worth of funding has come from a $750,000 grant from the Rotorua Energy Charitable Trust.

Read more:
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Mr Shaw said the board had asked the Office of the Auditor-General for advice to manage times when board members might be involved in other entities or organisations that interacted with the health board, and where those members had different responsibilities and accountabilities in their other roles.

Mr Shaw said board members had always declared their respective interests in the project when it was being discussed.

The suggested approach on managing a conflict of roles or duties provided to the health board said it needed to look at the member's obligations to each entity, their interests, whether they could fulfil their obligations to both entities at the same time and if there was a conflict, how serious it was.

The board needed to make sure there was no incentive for a member to act in a way that might not be in the best interests of the other entity.

The advice said it was important to consider how the situation might appear to a reasonable outside observer and the entity could still be at risk of a legal challenge or have its reputation damaged if there was a "reasonable perception" of conflict.

- Rotorua Daily Post

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