Health Headlines - December 2010
DHBs set for good health
Since our last edition of Health headlines, the heath sector has seen a number of developments in, New Zealand.
In November, the Minister of Health, Tony Ryall, announced the names of appointed District Health Board (DHB) members. Mr Ryall said he was pleased to see that collaboration within the sector had begun. Many of the appointed DHB members will sit on more than one board. However, since the announcement, many in the sector have begun asking questions about whether the cross-appointments of board members will increase efficiency in the sector or act as a restricting force by decreasing the degree of independence? Either way, the cross-appointments have led to a significant amount of controversy.
When addressing the issue we can take an optimistic or pessimistic approach. But does one side decisively outweigh the other? From a cynical perspective there is the obvious issue around conflict of interest when standing for more than one board. Can a cross-appointed member act in the best interest of both DHBs when the best action for one board could adversely affect the success of the other? Is a cross-appointed member capable of executing double the work load to an adequate standard or will work quality suffer? Thinking ahead, what does the cross appointment mean for the future of DHBs? Is this the first step toward the amalgamation of district boards, where eventually neighbouring boards will operate as one DHB? Although such speculation does exist, there is lack of sufficient evidence to suggest that any of the above issues will prevent positive progress within DHBs nationwide.
Cynicism aside, how do cross appointments benefit board members, health sector staff and most importantly the quality of healthcare provided throughout New Zealand? The answer is through:
- Increased access to knowledge and expertise of neighbouring health boards which will lead to improved efficiencies in the planning, approach and delivery of healthcare.
- Greater inter-district staff support systems will help improve the healthcare service provided to patients.
- Increased coordination and collaboration which will enable issues within the sector to be resolved efficiently and effectively.
- The breakdown of silo thinking which will enable DHBs access to new ideas, enhanced thinking and improved systems and structures. This will stimulate a team approach to finding solutions.
- The success of each DHB being dependent on the success of related DHBs. Collaboration allows DHBs to work together to ensure mutual success.
- The introduction of a consistent regional approach and vision, where members work together for the greater good of national healthcare.
- Improved cost efficiencies through collaboration of resources. This will allow redistribution of funds to other areas.
- The cross-appointment of board members is a premeditated step toward encouraging alliances between DHBs.
Ultimately the inter-district relationships seek to benefit the internal operations and final service provided within the healthcare sector of associated regions. Future appointments may support further collaboration between DHBs across New Zealand.
In this issue of Health Headlines we look at:
- Board effectiveness - The changing role boards undertake in organisations
- Hospital redevelopment - Recommended and practical techniques for better managing hospital construction projects
- Social networks - Emerging uses of social networks in healthcare
With the holiday period quickly approaching I would like to take the opportunity to wish you all a very safe and merry Christmas, and I look forward to discussing some of these hot topics in the New Year.
Graham Naylor and the team