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Southern District Health Board candidates believe the voice of Southland has been lost in the past few years.
During an event promoted by Grey Power yesterday in Invercargill, candidates agreed the population-based funding system was not working properly.
Candidates present were Neville Cook, Kaye Crowther, Ben Nettleton, Marion Poore, Leanne Samuel and Lesley Soper.
They said Southland had lost a big part of its services in recent years and people had to travel to Dunedin for appointments or treatment.
Candidates were concerned the new hospital in Dunedin would cost Southland even more of its health autonomy - and wanted to investigate funding and other options to avoid this.
Members of the public complained about the lack of transparency and communication on the board.
Grey Power life member and former president Geoff Piercy, who chaired the event, described the board as a kind of "secret society".
Candidates agreed on the need for better communication with the public.
Another subject raised was the proposed Southland charity hospital.
Blair and Melissa Vinning have initiated an attempt to create a community hospital to improve cancer sufferers' chances of survival.
All SDHB candidates praised their effort, but said "it should not be needed" if Southland had a higher quality health system.
An attendeee said the region needed more beds in the hospital - however, the candidates believed it was a matter of "better use of funds and resources".