Health is wealth and DHB is doing well

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One of the most common queries that comes through my electorate offices is health and the state of healthcare in the southern region.
Constituents are constantly seeking information — or imparting it based on their own experiences — on health and the Southern District Health Board.
And rightly so; health is wealth, after all.
As your local MP, I advocate in Wellington for better services for us, and part of that is pushing to get more ministers and other MPs down to our patch of paradise to see firsthand how things are run down here.
In the past 12 months you may have noticed we’ve had Health Minister Dr Jonathan Coleman in our region twice, and the health select committee chair, Simon O’Connor, down once.
This is all part of my strategy to keep Clutha-Southland at the fore of considerations.
During Minister Coleman’s most recent visit, we spent time in both Gore and Balclutha visiting healthcare providers and professionals.
We attended some very informative sessions, including a lunch and Q and A with local healthcare professionals in Gore.
Questions included an update on the SDHB, to which the Minister confirmed the commissioners are doing a fantastic job steering the board back to financial recovery without compromising on patient care.
In Balclutha, we were pleased to be able to attend the official opening of Clutha Health First’s $3.9 million hospital upgrade and extension.
The health portfolio is one of the most important on the Government’s books.
In this year’s budget, the Southern District Health Board received an extra $32 million in new money, taking the board’s total funding to $884 million for 2016-17. That’s an extra $194 million in funding over the last eight years since we’ve been in government.
It’ll be a big year ahead for the SDHB and the commissioners as they continue down the path to financial recovery, but they have a clear plan for stability and are doing some great work to get there.
Speaking of big years, the local body elections will soon prove to be a significant focus in Gore, with nominations for elected positions on the Gore District Council closing at noon today.
Standing for local council is an incredible opportunity for people to have their say about the issues that affect their community directly and develop their leadership skills.
It’d be great to see more of our young farmers and young professionals put themselves forward so we have a strong, representative council.
If standing for council is not for you, make sure you seek out information, take part in the process and vote for people who can make a difference in the community.