by Greta Yeoman
New signage, a disability stocktake and preparation for the future of Timaru’s hospital have all been part of the first year’s work of the South Canterbury District Health Board’s (SCDHB) consumer council.
Consumer council representatives Anne-Marie McRae and Mark Rogers, speaking to The Courier last week, said the first year of the council had gone well.
While district health boards had received the directive from the Ministry of Health to have a consumer council, there had not been a lot of guidance about what that necessarily involved, Mr Rogers said.
However, a year down the track, the SCDHB and other boards around the country were beginning to understand why it was good to have consumer representation in decision-making, outside of public consultation processes, he said.
The council and the health board itself were tracking progress on the Dunedin Hospital rebuild because the expectation was that Timaru would be next in line, Mr Rogers said.
“We’ll be keeping an eye on it.”
Mrs McRae said the council had been making “small steps” since its launch in August last year, and held its first official meeting in February this year.
She emphasised the council was not a complaints group, and that people should take any complaints through official DHB processes.
However, the group could propose and help with changes.
This had included one consumer council representative joining a couple of hospital staff during a “disability stocktake” of all potential accessibility issues in the main Timaru hospital building, she said.
Mr Rogers had also advocated for new signage on one of the wards after he, and several other people, got lost coming to visit family members in the hospital.