Bay turns out for health meeting

CHARLOTTE SQUIRE
Last updated 12:58 23/07/2014

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A packed public meeting has called for Golden Bay's voice to be heard in Nelson as changes are made to the new integrated family health centre.

More than 120 packed into Golden Bay's fire station for an update about the restructure of the new centre at Takaka.

The meeting came in response to the loss of service director Rhoda McDonald's role, a move that sparked public outcry.

Retired Golden Bay doctor Helen Kingston said there was nothing like talking face to face and she felt positive about the meeting.

To ensure clear communication between Golden Bay and the PHO (the primary health organisation), Nelson Bays Primary Health in the future, Kingston asked for a liaison/advisory group to be set up in Golden Bay manned by "staff and community people".

She also requested a policy change at the PHO so a Golden Bay representative would be allowed on the PHO board.

One of the meeting organisers Belinda Barnes, said she was "delighted" with the turnout and the support of the community. She said it was obvious that the health centre was appreciated.

They would meet with PHO chief executive Andrew Swanson-Dobbs and or the Nelson Marlborough District Health Board chief executive, Chris Fleming, (both of whom were at the meeting) to talk about representation on the PHO and ways to improve transparency and accountability to the Golden Bay community, she said.

Recently retired charge nurse Alexia Russell said there were many aspects of the meeting she was pleased with, such as a great turnout and the representatives of two unions, who "spoke their disquiet" - but that on a personal level she was never going to be happy with the outcome of the meeting.

"Because it was too late to do anything to change the course of events in relation to the loss of the service director.

"Needless to say I remain totally opposed to the pathway taken by the PHO. And for me, there was nothing said by Andrew Swanson-Dobbs or Chris Fleming that did anything to reassure me about the direction ahead now the local director/leadership role has been removed," she said.

Swanson-Dobbs said he was pleased to have the invitation from the community group which organised the meeting and was happy to be able to attend and hear the community's concerns about new arrangements and communication.

"I'm confident we are heading in the right direction."

In response to the requests for a community liaison group based in Golden Bay he said a group called the Golden Bay Health Alliance group had already been established, and could serve that purpose. First, the problems needed to be clearly identified.

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He said he was looking forward to "meaningful discussion" with the Golden Bay group that organised the meeting..

- The Nelson Mail

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