District Health Boards

District Hospital Boards (DHBs) have been in the news lately. New Zealand has 21 DHBs. The job of the Board is to meet the health needs of the community. The Board is responsible for governing hospitals and health services in their own areas but they have a management team, headed by a Chief Executive, who controls the day-to-day matters. Most of the members (7 members) of the DHBs are elected by their community although the Minister of Health can appoint up to 4 more members. Hospital Board members usually have another job as this is a part-time position. People who choose to be Board members do this work as a service to the community.

Towards the end of 2007, a very large DHB, Capital and Coast Board representing the Wellington area, was in trouble, partly over finance, and the Minister of Health appointed a new Board chairman. The Hawkes Bay DHB was fired on Tuesday by the Minister who appointed a commissioner in their place. (Hawkes Bay is on the east coast of the North Island, about 5 hours north of Wellington by car.) One of the problems was finance. The Board had trouble keeping to the budget. The Board says the government does not give them enough money. Another problem was that there was conflict between some of the Board members and also between Board members and some of the doctors. Some doctors at the hospital say they are happy that the Board was fired.

Another problem this week involved the Wanganui Board (Wanganui is on the west coast of the North Island, about 4 hours north of Wellington). Several women patients complained to the Health and Disability Commissioner about their treatment by one gynaecology specialist, Dr Hasil. The Commissioner found that the DHB should not have appointed Dr Hasil. He was trained in Czechoslovakia but had been living and working in Australia. When he came to Wanganui hospital, the DHB did not properly check his CV. They did not know that he failed exams, that he had been in prison and had lost his job through drinking. While he was working in Wanganui, women complained that he had a rough manner and sometimes they could smell alcohol on him. He performed 32 sterilisation operations on women but 6 women became pregnant. The Wanganui DHB fired Dr Hasil after a year but he then got a job in Queensland in Australia; however, he has disappeared after news of what happened in Wanganui.

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