Laughter and broadsides at final Lakes DHB board meeting


Laughter and broadsides at final Lakes DHB board meeting

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Lakes DHB board meeting
The final gathering of the Lakes DHB board was punctuated by laughs and backslapping

“We now have practices under pressure and a high number of Māori who are not enrolled”

Lakes DHB’s final board meeting heard calls for urgent measures to address the region’s GP shortage.

"The entry point to healthcare is going to be the locality but, if you don’t have a GP then you don’t get access to those services,” says board member and specialist psychiatrist Rees Tapsell (Ngāti Whakaue).

Dr Tapsell would like to see the Government revisit the idea of a third medical school with a focus on primary care, Māori health and mental health.

“At some point, we have to do something to get GPs who will stay in the area. We have to do something about that quickly because the model we have is not working.”

DHB director equity and outcomes Mapihi Raharuhi (Ngāti Pikiao, Ngāti Mākino, Ngāti Kea, Ngāti Tuarā) says the GP shortage is also having a flow-on effect on emergency departments.

“Primary care is working incredibly hard, but we have a workforce crisis; the number of people who don’t have a GP and GP surgeries that don’t have GPs...

“Recruitment and retention issues within the primary care space are significant...we now have practices under pressure and a high number of Māori who are not enrolled.”

Government demands 

After hearing reports highlighting the heavy workload being placed on Rotorua Hospital and the likelihood of COVID-19 infections ramping up again in July, board member Merepeka Raukawa-Tait (Te Arawa) talked of government demands during the COVID response which she says paid little heed to their impact.

“When central Government puts these requests, well, they are not requests, on us, they fail to realise we still have to do everything else as well...the Government needs to recognise that they are adding more stress and more work on to our staff. And I don’t think you can underestimate the additional stress it puts on us...the Government needs to understand that, when they make a decision, there will be consequences.”

Thank you and goodnight 

But while some had been predicting this last board hoorah would be a maudlin affair, the serious talk and self-reflection was also regularly punctuated by laughter.

Chair Jim Mather (Ngāti Awa, Ngāi Tūhoe) set the tone with his opening statement which invited board members to reflect on the years of work they had undertaken for their communities and the wider region.

“Reflection is important to ensure a good pathway ahead for those who are continuing with this mahi...we are handing over an organisation that is in good stead to the new health system that is coming.”

Time was also taken to consider the 13-member board’s high Māori representation, with member Christine Rankin’s Ngāti Maniapoto affiliation lifting the complement to eight.

The public session of the meeting ended on an upbeat note, with the board looking forward to the role of the region’s newly constituted iwi Māori partnership board, the bedding in of the Pae Ora (Healthy Futures) Bill, and one last, celebratory shared lunch.


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