Why Am I Standing for the Taranaki District Health Board?

I have a life-long interest in health, and would like to see TDHB
promote health and wellbeing rather than just being a sickness fix-it system.
I’m keen to contribute and to make a difference.

I support South Taranaki’s entitlement to top quality health care. We are not NP’s poor cousin and wish to play a full part in deciding Taranaki’s health priorities.

  • I would work to reduce the bureaucracy at TDHB.
  • I would work to identify ideas and best practice to improve people’s health.
  • I will give strong representation to the people of South Taranaki at the Taranaki Health Board table. Many feel neglected by the priorities the Board has set, and I would work for a Taranaki-wide approach to decision-making on health services. We all deserve better, and I will fight to achieve that.
  • We do very well as a province when we work together and support each other. The same should apply to health services.
  • I read widely on health matters, I understand numbers, and I understand the need to improve the health of Taranaki people. I’m prepared to ask the tough questions and to assist in bringing the best ideas forward.
  • I can work with people of all backgrounds and can present constituents’ views in a straight-forward and down-to-earth way. I will look for solutions that deliver long-term benefits.
  • I am a determined negotiator and can see past the bureaucratic waffle and jargon. We need straight answers to straight questions and I would see that as a key part of my role.

So, What Are the Issues?

There are very real constraints on the Health budget, as set by the Minister of Health. So, we have limited choices and few options:

1. We can continue to see cuts being made to South Taranaki’s health services, while the New Plymouth empire grows. Enough is enough!

2. We can promote health and wellbeing across the province. This will lead to fewer sick people, lower demand on services and medication, and therefore more money for essential services.

3. We can cut the bureaucracy and unnecessary back-office functions. We need more doctors and nurses and we need fewer managers. Easy!

4. We can look for departments that can be located in Stratford or Hawera. This will mean that medical services are maintained and enhanced, rather than run down. And if some people need to travel to Hawera for a particular treatment, then that’s great. Hawera people travel to New Plymouth every day, so some balance would be timely.

Believe it or not, this can save money because it does not require a huge centre in New Plymouth trying to be all things to all people… and a huge non-medical staff to run it.

Those are our only options if we want big enough savings to protect essential services.

So, what is the way forward?

I Propose:

1. A baseline health survey of all Taranaki people.

  • This will allow health trends to be monitored over time, and allow scrutiny of trends and problems already happening overseas. We cannot pretend that those trends won’t reach us here, so we should prepare for them and do something beforehand.

2. A health system that focuses on promoting and enhancing health. Humans are complex, with physical, emotional, mental and spiritual aspects. Let’s build a wholistic system which displays insight into this, and works to enhance all facets.

  • This will help all people to understand and start making healthy choices. It will also begin to create an awareness that health is not something designed and defined and controlled by medical experts. If we want a province of healthy, resilient, competent and wise people, we must begin to identify what those things are and how to achieve them.
  • Let’s make an effort to get people out of their ‘death syles’ and into ‘lifestyles.’ This means actively encouraging friends family and neighbours to give up the booze, the ciggies, the fizzy drinks, the sweets and packaged rubbish… in favour of some fresh fruit every day, more water, some exercise, and an effort to reduce weight and improve health.

    But we have to do the same things ourselves… so we can lead by example.
    I call this taking responsibility for our own health, and that of our families and friends.And guess what? This costs the health board nothing and actually saves them money because fewer sick people will walk in their doors. Isn’t that the goal?

3. Let’s cut the large TDHB non-medical bureaucracy. It is medical staff who deliver services, so let’s acknowledge that and let’s support them to do it.

  • We don’t need an army of office staff to run a health system, so what about re-engineering the system to work more simply? There has to be a way…

Key Points:

  • I strongly support the view that we each have a responsibility to make the best health and lifestyle choices for ourselves and our families. Over time, fewer people will develop preventable diseases and conditions. Pressure on some services will decrease, freeing up resources for essential areas
  • This will require all doctors to take a broader view of health and their role in enhancing it. They will monitor all patients for diet, exercise, smoking and drinking habits, and give constructive and informed advice to help prevent obesity, heart and lung disease, diabetes, etc.
  •  Alongside this sits an acceptance of valid and valuable alternative medicine and its practitioners. Let’s face it: conventional drug-based medicine doesn’t have all the answers. So let’s be open-minded and accept that there are plenty of health disciplines that offer real and sometimes much safer treatments and benefits.

It is bad management to wait until people get sick
and develop diseases before treating them.

So let’s stop doing that… and start promoting health!

Please RANK Stephen Barrett #1 for TDHB

Please discuss this with your friends and neighbours…