Board elections - Frequently asked questions
Important dates     |     DHBs and the Health & Disability Sector    |    How are DHBs made up?
How do DHBs work?    |    Standing for a DHB     |     The elections     |     DHB electoral contact



Important dates

 
When are the next DHB elections?

  • The elections will be held on Saturday 8 October 2016.
  • Candidate nominations open on Friday 15 July 2016.
  • Nominations close at noon on Friday 12 August 2016.
  • A progress and/or preliminary result will be available as soon as possible after the close of voting.
  • An official final result will be available after special votes have been counted – probably within ten days after the close of voting.
 
 
DHBs and the NZ Health and Disability Sector


What is a district health board (DHB)?

  • DHBs are Crown entities responsible for providing, or funding the provision of, publicly-funded health and disability support services for the population of a specific geographic area.
  • There are 20 DHBs in New Zealand. DHBs were established on 1 January 2001.
 
What are DHBs’ statutory objectives?
  • Improving, promoting and protecting the health of people and communities.
  • Promoting the integration of health services, especially primary and secondary health services.
  • Promoting effective care and support for those in need of personal health services or disability support services.
  • Promoting the inclusion, participation in society and independence of people with disabilities.
  • Reducing health disparities by improving health outcomes for Māori and other population groups.
 
What are DHBs’ defined functions?
  • Ensuring the provision of services for its resident population and other people as specified in the Crown funding agreement.
  • Actively investigating, facilitating, sponsoring and developing cooperative and collaborative arrangements with people in the health and disability sector and other sectors to improve, promote and protect the health of people, and to promote the inclusion and participation in society and independence of people with disabilities.
  • Continuing to foster the development of Māori capacity for participating in health and disability sector and for providing for the needs of Māori.
  • Regularly investigating, assessing and monitoring the health status of its resident population, any factors that the DHB believe may adversely affect the health status of that population, and the needs of that population for services.
  • Promoting the reduction of adverse society and environmental effects on the health of people and communities.
  • Participating, where appropriate, in the training of health practitioners and other workers in the health and disability sector.
  • DHBs also have to comply with any formal directions given to them by the Minister of Health.
 
How are DHBs accountable?
  • DHBs are accountable, both to the Government and the House of Representatives, through a framework set out in statute and in Cabinet decisions.

 
How are DHBs made up?

 
How many members are there on a DHB?
Each DHB board consists of seven elected members and up to a further four appointed members.
 
Who appoints the appointed members?
When making appointments, the Minister of Health looks at each board’s elected membership and identifies any gaps in skills, expertise, experience and representation that may exist. The Minister then seeks to appoint people who have the appropriate knowledge, skills and experience to assist the DHB to achieve its objectives and perform its functions.
 
Clause 29(4) of the NZPHD Act states:
In making appointments to a board, the Minister must ensure that –

  1. Māori membership of the board is proportional to the number of Māori in the DHB’s resident population (as estimated by Statistics New Zealand); and
  2. In any event, there are at least two Māori members of the board.
 
How are the chairperson and deputy chairperson decided?
The Minister of Health appoints members to these positions – they may be elected or appointed members.
 
How soon after the election are people appointed by the Minister?
Usually at the same time as elected members – or as soon after this as possible.
 
How long is the term of an elected DHB member?
Three years. Elections are held at the same time as local body elections.
 
How long is the term of an appointed DHB member?
Ministerial appointments can be for up to three years. The Minister can appoint people for further terms but they can only serve a maximum of three consecutive terms (ie. nine years).
 

 
How do DHBs work?

 
What is the board’s role?
The board of a DHB has all powers necessary for the governance and management of the DHB.  However, the board must delegate to the DHB’s chief executive the power to make decisions on management matters relating to the DHB (see Section 26 of the NZPHD Act).
 
The board’s role is one of stewardship, direction-setting and monitoring the DHB’s overall performance against its goals.  It is not one of day-to-day management (which is the responsibility of the chief executive).  The board has no role in employment decisions, other than appointing the chief executive.
 
Who are board members responsible to?
All board members (those elected by the public and those appointed by the Minister) are directly responsible and accountable to the Minister of Health.  This is because DHBs are funded by the Government, using taxpayer dollars.  It is acknowledged that elected members provide a positive way of ensuring the community’s voice is heard at the DHB board table.
 
How are possible conflicts of interest handled?
Many people in the community who have an interest in health services are already involved in some way in health services or organisations which may do business with DHBs.  The existence of a conflict of interest does not disqualify you as a potential board member.  Disclosing the conflict enables it to be managed, using the procedures set out in the NZPHD Act (see Clause 36 of Schedule 3).
 
All DHB candidates are legally required to provide the DHB’s electoral officer with a conflict of interest statement.  Failure to disclose a conflict of interest may result in removal from the board if elected.  Conflict of interest statements serve to increase public confidence and transparency in DHB decision-making.  Candidates are expected to be as open and frank with the public as possible to help avoid any suggestion that the public was not made aware of actual or potential conflicts of interest when considering candidates for election.
 
Do boards have committees?
Under the NZPHD Act, a DHB board has three statutory advisory committees: the hospital advisory committee; the community and public health advisory committee; and the disability support advisory committee.
 
The board is also able to form its own specialist committees to address particular issues, such as risk and audit.
 
Committee members are appointed by the DHB and can be either board members, members of the public, or a mixture of both.
 

 
Standing for a DHB


 
Who is eligible to stand for the DHB?
Most people qualify as candidates at an election of a DHB if they are registered as a New Zealand parliamentary elector and are a New Zealand citizen.  Exceptions are set out in the NZ Public Health and Disability Act 2000 (see Clause 17 of Schedule 2).
 
DHB employees are not prevented from being elected as a member of a DHB simply because they are employees of the DHB (see Clause 7 of Schedule 2 of the NZPHD Act).
 
How can I be nominated?
To stand for election, you must be nominated by any two qualified electors (ie two people who are on the electoral roll in the district of the DHB for which you wish to stand).  You are not permitted to nominate yourself.
 
For the 2016 elections, nominations open on Friday 15 July.  Your nomination must be lodged with the DHB electoral officer between before noon on Friday 12 August 2016.
 
How many boards can I stand for?
You cannot stand for election in more than one DHB.  While you do not have to live in the DHB’s district, the two people who nominate you must be on the electoral roll in the district of the DHB in which you wish to stand. 
 
You are allowed to stand as both a local government candidate (eg council, community board) and as a candidate for a DHB.
 
Do I need any special skills to be a board member?
It isn’t necessary to be an experienced director or to have particular qualifications to be a DHB board member.  Candidates with different backgrounds, skills, expertise and qualifications are welcomed – and in fact desired.  Boards work best when members have informed views on many aspects of the DHB’s work, rather than a narrow focus on one or two issues.
 
Is there any training available for board members?
Board members who are not familiar with their obligations and duties as members are expected to undertake and complete any necessary training.  DHBs fund this training and keep records of it. 
 
Both the Ministry of Health and individual DHBs usually provide induction/refresher sessions for board members when they take office.
 
How much time does being a board member take?
Time requirements vary between DHBs, depending on the way the board works, how efficiently the members work and on members’ experience.  Board members should be prepared to commit the equivalent of about five days per month for board business.  This includes preparation time, board meetings, committee meetings and community liaison activities.
 
When do new board members take office?
New board members take up their role 58 days after the date of the election and the term of office for current board members also ends at that time.  As this year’s election will be held on 8 October, the new board will take office on Monday 5 December 2016.
 
If you are elected to the board, the DHB will contact you shortly after the final result is announced to discuss further arrangements.
 
How much are DHB members paid?
The Minister of Health determines levels of remuneration in accordance with the Cabinet Fees Framework.  Board members are paid an annual fee for their service on the board, and fee levels vary according to size and the assessed complexity of the DHB.  Members can also be reimbursed for actual and reasonable expenses incurred in carrying out their DHB duties (eg travel costs).
 

 
The elections


 
Who runs the DHB elections?
Whanganui District Health Board is required to appoint an electoral officer to run district health board elections on its behalf.  The electoral officer must also be an electoral officer of one of the city or district councils within the district health board’s boundary.
 
The board has confirmed that Noeline Moosman from Whanganui District Council will act as electoral officer for the 2016 elections for Whanganui District Health Board.  Noeline can be contacted by phone on 06 349 0001 or email to noeline.moosman@whanganui.govt.nz.
 
What method of voting is used?
DHB elections use the Single Transferable Voting (STV) system to elect candidates to boards.  Under STV, voters rank their desired candidates in order of preference.  Candidates are elected when they reach a specific level of support from voters (known as ‘the STV quota’).
 
Who is eligible to vote?
Registered New Zealand parliamentary electors may vote for members of the DHB in the district in which they live.  If a person owns property in more than one DHB district, they can only vote for the DHB in the district where they are resident and registered on the parliamentary electoral roll.
 
When will results be available?
A progress and/or preliminary result will be available as soon as possible after the close of voting.  An official final result will be available after special votes have been counted – probably within ten days after the close of voting.
 
Who pays for the DHB election?
The DHB pays for its share of the election costs. Because the DHB election is run at the same time as the council elections, many of the costs are shared between the parties on an agreed basis.
 


DHB electoral contact



For queries regarding the role of DHB members and the election process, contact:

Margaret Bell     |     Whanganui DHB Professional Advisor Administration
Private Bag 3003, Whanganui 4540
Phone 06 348 3424     |     Email margaret.bell@wdhb.org.nz