What’s the point of DHB elections?

When we elected health boards using First Past the Post we had wards which gave us a reasonable chance of knowing at least one of the candidates for whom we could vote.

When STV was introduced we lost the wards and now have to vote for up to four members for the Otago Constituency of the Southern District Health Board.

There are 11 people standing for those four positions. That is an improvement on the 20 plus who stood in previous elections but I’d be very surprised if anyone knew enough to intelligently rank all 11 and most will be struggling to find four they know enough about to support, or not, with confidence.

I don’t know any of the candidates very well but have met four of them and know of one more. I will probably vote for one and may support a second but definitely won’t be voting for the others I know or any of those I don’t know.

This shows up shortcomings with the STV system – it may be good in a small area where people know the candidates or can find out about them easily, but it’s not good for a whole province. Dunedin city voters have the numerical advantage, it’s too expensive for candidates to promote themselves everywhere and most voters will know little if anything about most of those seeking their votes.

But whatever the voting system I wonder what’s the point in elections for DHBs? The chair and half the board members are government appointees and elected or appointed, all board members are answerable to the government.

Allowing elections was an attempt by Labour to convince us we had local control over health boards. We don’t.

They are there to run hospitals and health services for the government and they’re answerable to the Minister of Health.

I don’t have a problem with that but wonder why we have to go through the charade of elections which are really just an expensive exercise designed to make us feel we have some control when in practice we don’t.

One Response to What’s the point of DHB elections?

  1. JC says:

    I’m tempted to suggest that instead of representatives doing a token job of administration we would be better off with “consumer representatives” whose job would be to kick up a fuss on our behalf.

    A sort of Whaleoil “Keeping the buggers honest” role.



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