Health Minister Tony Ryall dictated new health priorities for the country’s twenty-one district health boards today.
New targets include:
- Shorter emergency department stays
- Better access to elective surgery
- Shorter waits for cancer treatment
- Increased immunisation
- Better help for smokers to quit
- Better diabetes and cardiovascular services
- Improving nutrition, increasing physical activity and reducing obesity (there goes the DHB’s contribution to the sports park!)
- Improving oral health (something our DHB has been giving a push to)
- Improving mental health services (will this deal a fatal blow to local efforts to bring HB Hospital’s in-patient psychiatric unit into the 21st century?)
- Reducing the percentage of the health budget spent on the Health Ministry (a daily chore says Ryall)
I’ve been to every DHB Board meeting since the National Government took over. And I never heard any discussion of local DHB input into such a seemingly important matter as the new Minister’s health priorities.
I’m sure there’s a rationale on hand for each of these changes. But all the same, something tells me that Minister Ryall didn’t spend much time conferring with the likes of Sir John Anderson, chairman of our DHB, let alone the elected voices of our DHB, led by Kevin Atkinson.
Which leads one to wonder … what does the Minister and his Government really think of DHBs after all? Are they there to simply open wide, take the medicine, and swallow?