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The government’s plan to halve the number of DHBs means Nelson is likely to lose control of its health services, says Nelson MP Nick Smith.

“This Government’s radical health reforms are a huge risk for Nelson with the most likely outcome being our services controlled from Christchurch or Wellington. This centralisation will see Nelson losing our autonomy, our services, and our highly skilled specialist staff.

“The Health and Disability System Review Final Report released yesterday proposes reducing the number of DHBs from 20 to between 8 and 12, requiring a population of 420,000 and 620,000 each. Nelson and Marlborough have only 150,000 people, meaning our chances of retaining our board are small. Health Minister David Clark says he supports the report and the reduction in DHBs.

“Nelson has everything to loose and nothing to gain from these radical health changes. We have had control of our local health services for more than a century since the first hospital board was formed in 1885. Our local district health board has consistently been one of the better performers nationally and has had a history of innovation in improving links between secondary and primary care, specialised treatment likes of cardiology and most recently, confidently responding to the Covid-19 health emergency. I am dealing with constituency cases on health issues all the time and worry that the accountability of services will be less if based out of Christchurch or Wellington.

“This is déjà vu to this Government’s radical polytechnic reform and Nelson again risks losing control of its core public institutions. This Government has a mistaken belief that centralised bureaucracies deliver better public services when my experience is the exact opposite.

“I will fight for Nelson to retain our district health board with every political bone in my body. Health matters too much to Nelson’s future for our region to surrender control” Dr Smith concluded.

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