Chambers returns to interrupted SDHB role

John Chambers
John Chambers
In 2015, before he was suddenly interrupted, John Chambers was a member of the Southern District Health Board.

After Saturday's local body elections, the clinical leader at Dunedin hospital's emergency department is once more a board member. He is hoping for a better run this time, after being part of the board sacked by then health minister Jonathan Coleman.

"You can't dwell on the past too much.It's quite a long time now since we have had an elected board,'' Dr Chambers said.

The 2015 firing was ascribed to high budget deficit predictions, although nothing in the realms of the $86million deficit the board announced last week.

Dr Chambers hoped the organisation's financial position would not affect the provision of health services.

"Our job is to govern the provision of health services to the people and to make sure the financial side of everything is done properly.

"I don't think we should compromise services because of these historical deficits which we had no control over.

"I think that's for the government to manage.''

Dr Chambers was the highest-polling candidate in the Otago constituency.

Also elected were former Dunedin mayor Dave Cull, community health council member Ilka Beekhuis and Dunedin hospital oncologist Lyndell Kelly.

Highest-polling candidate in the Southland constituency was Terry King.

Also elected were former MP and current Invercargill city councillor Lesley Soper and former SDHB member and Plunket president Kaye Crowther.

Mr King, a former Invercargill city councillor and one-time president of Grey Power, said he was stunned to have polled so well.

"To top the poll was totally unexpected ... I am interested in the ageing population, but I am also a strong supporter of the late Blair Vining's call for a national cancer agency.''

Mr King, who survived cancer, heart surgery and temporary paralysis to compete in swimming events at last year's Masters Games, said the voices of all patients - especially cancer patients - needed to be heard.

"There are something like 12,000 cancer patients a year. It's a big thing.''

He said he set himself goals.

"The Masters Games was my goal last year. The goal for this year was to stand in the election.

"If you don't have a goal, you don't know where you are going to go.

"It's a positive help for you, especially if you are dealing with a serious illness.''

Cr Soper said her first priority would be to call for an investigation into population-based funding, which she believed disadvantaged the SDHB.

"I have felt for some time there is a fundamental flaw in that system, and I would very much like to get to the bottom of that.

"My other priorities are mental health and cancer care and I really do want to see the SDHB's own recommendations from its own report into bowel cancer implemented.''

Cr Soper said she was used to handling a heavy workload, and would be able balance the demands of the ICC, SDHB, and legal work in the ACC field.

Health Minister David Clark will appoint the new board's chairman and deputy chairman, and can also appoint up to four additional board members.


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