Lockett stands by health system Chairwoman set for challenge

16:00, Nov 29 2013

The health system does work, despite what one of her former colleagues says, according to the new chairwoman of the Taranaki District Health Board.

Yesterday Health Minister Tony Ryall announced Pauline Lockett as the head of the board.

"I think that we have had some challenges in the last term and obviously when we face challenges things get frustrating," Ms Lockett said.

She was responding to comments from departing board member Colleen Tuuta, who said government interference made the job difficult, and that the health model was failing.

Ms Lockett said a major challenge was around finances and the board had worked very hard to get the finances to break even.

"That resulted in frustration. The board was very focused to work with the executive team to achieve that. But strength comes from adversity."

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And some exciting initiatives had come out of that situation, she said.

While there were still some issues around Maori health, it was in a better position than it had been.

"One thing I wanted to point out was we did a whanau ora health needs assessment in 2012 looking at health needs of Taranaki Maori," she said. That assessment was continuing.

All health sectors faced issues, including limited resources, funding, and increased expectations from the public, she said. "The board did achieve things in the last three years."

Ms Lockett, a chartered accountant, has just finished a term on the New Plymouth District Council.

She was made a fellow of the New Zealand Institute of Chartered Accountants last week. Fellowships are awarded for outstanding service to the profession.

But, obviously health was not just about finances, she said.

"I am pleased to be the chairwoman of the DHB. We have a very good team of people elected and the government appointments are going to be named next week.

"We will end up with a strong board with lots of skills as well as community representation.

"It's exciting to have new board members coming in with fresh ways of thinking. It will inject a level of enthusiasm. And the new hospital build is ongoing."

Ms Lockett replaces Mary Bourke as chairwoman. Her deputy will be announced next week.

Taranaki Daily News