‘Gagging’ of DHB members should not be tolerated

Any moves to muzzle elected District Health Board members from commenting honestly on the Government’s health system restructure should not be allowed to happen, National’s Deputy Leader and Health spokesperson Dr Shane Reti says.

“I’m very concerned to hear some elected DHB members feel the new code of conduct introduced this week will ‘gag’ them from expressing their personal opinions on the Government’s health restructure.

“Elected DHB members have a mandate to act in the best interests of the communities they represent, not sit there in silence while they rubber-stamp government policy.

“These board members are elected to make meaningful contributions to matters that will impact their communities. The restructure that will be announced tomorrow is a massive piece of government-led work, and to expect DHB members to comment on it honestly without their words being seen as ‘political’ is an unfair imposition on their democratic duty.

“It follows a worrying trend that had developed under the Labour Government where people are attacked for raising genuine criticisms.

“We saw this recently with the Ministry of Health trying to ‘gag’ Mental Health Foundation CEO Shaun Robinson, who was then unfairly accused of lying on national television by Labour Minister David Parker.

“Free speech works both ways – you are entitled to your views and others are entitled to criticise those views. National is the party that will always stand up for free speech.”