The DHB has provided a written apology to the family of a woman who died in hospital. Photo: File.

Voting for our health in DHB elections

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Once a month, a group of people meet to make decisions about the health needs of everyone who lives in the Top of the South. Kate Russell looks at the DHB elections and why you need to vote.

Next month, you get to have a say on who makes big decisions about the region’s health, with the Nelson Marlborough District Health Board elections being held 12 October, in conjunction with the local body elections.

The objective of our health board is to improve, promote and protect the health of people and communities in the district. Board members are tasked with making sure it meets its obligations, both financially and in delivering health services.

The next three years will be critical for our health board with key issues such as the development of a new hospital, a rising demand for services, a growing and aging population, and funding – with the recent announcement of the board’s $20 million deficit.

But despite these issues, voter interest in health board elections is not what it should be. In 2016, there were 55,417 votes – an overall turnout of 52.1 per cent, according to Department of Internal Affairs figures.

Our health board consists of up to 11 members, with seven elected by the public living within the Nelson Marlborough area every three years, and up to four appointed by the Minister of Health.

There are 14 people vying for a spot on the health board in the 2019 elections. There will be at least six new faces with a number of current board members not seeking re-election.

Some of the newcomers looking for votes this year include current deputy mayor of Nelson Paul Matheson, Jacinta Newport, Bernie Goldsmith, Leigh Manson and Garth Munro.

DHBs use the Single Transferable Vote (STV) system, so instead of ticking the candidates you want to vote for, you number the candidates in order of preference. This differs from the first past the post (FPP) system councils use.

Voting opens when papers are sent out on 20 September and closes at noon on 12 October.