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Locals back sacked Health Board

Published: 6:30AM Friday February 29, 2008 Source: ONE News/Newstalk ZB

Hundreds of Hawke's Bay locals crammed into a public meeting in Napier on Friday to demand the reinstatement of their sacked District Health Board.
While the Health Minister was a no-show, the residents were determined to have their say.

Standing united in a hall bulging at the seams, more than 300 residents gathered to oppose the sacking of their DHB.

"Unless we stand together we will get nowhere," said one resident.

The locals claim their vote has been discarded.

"When a minister attacks the integrity of a democratically voted hospital board, it's time he resigned his position," they said.
Health Minister David Cunliffe can now expect the local's letter of condemnation along with legal action promised by five local councils.

On Thursday, the Napier city, Hastings district, Wairoa district and Hawke's Bay regional councils voted to join a legal challenge against Cunliffe's decision to replace the board with an independent commissioner.

The councils say other health boards have similar financial problems and theirs shouldn't have been singled out.

Napier Mayor Barbara Arnott says Cunliffe never met the board and his reasons for sacking them are slight. She says council members believe his actions are unreasonable and have been made in haste.

Meanwhile, Cunliffe is standing by his decision.

"(It's) obviously not appropriate for me to talk about the details, but what I can say is that I took legal advice before making the decision that I made, " says Cunliffe.

The two local National MPs who convened Friday's meeting made the most of local sentiment.

"The Minister of Health has done more to unite Hawke's Bay than anyone has done," said National MP Craig Foss.

Local labour list MP Russell Fairbrother says he doesn't believe there is strong region-wide public feeling against the sacking of the Hawke's Bay DHB.  

He says those who are unhappy are people who can afford private health-care while those who are stuck with public service are happy the board has gone.