Health board members are failing to go to disability support meetings, forcing one to be cancelled and leaving no decisions able to be made at another.
Five Canterbury District Health Board members have been appointed to the disability support advisory committee.
Committee deputy-chairman, Chris Mene, has missed every meeting this year.
Board members on committees are paid up to $2500 extra per year on top of their $26,520 salary.
Tracey Chambers as the disability committee chairwoman is paid up to $3125 per year on top of her base salary.
That amount can be reduced if the member attends less than 10 meetings in a year.
We can’t take a break from these barriers. So we would expect the DSAC committee return to regularly progressing the issues that are raised by our community, as is their purpose,” he said.
Ms Chambers has been at every meeting, but members Aaron Keown, Anna Crighton and Sally Buck have each missed a meeting.
CCS Disability Action Canterbury local advisory committee chairman Peter Bradley said he was concerned about the poor attendance.
He would hope and expect to see disability issues at the forefront of their thinking and actions, he said.
“We know that disabled people face poorer health outcomes overall in New Zealand and face every day obstacles such as lack of access and attitudinal barriers and unfortunately these are often experienced within the health system. We can’t take a break from these barriers. So we would expect the DSAC committee return to regularly progressing the issues that are raised by our community, as is their purpose,” he said.
Of the four formal meetings of the committee scheduled so far this year, only two have been held – in March and in May.
The next formal meeting is scheduled for November, leaving a wait of at least six months before the committee can approve any decisions around disability issues.
This month’s meeting was cancelled because not enough health board members said they could go.
Board members met for the last meeting in July, but they could not make any decisions because half of the committee members were not there. That meant they fell short of the required quorum to make the meeting official.
Ms Chambers did not respond to calls from The Star.
New CDHB board chairman John Wood, who was appointed to the role in August, also did not respond to questions.
Mr Mene was overseas in Europe this week, but responded to questions from The Star by email.
He said he could not attend the March meeting because of a work committment, and could not attend the May meeting because of a family commitment.
He said he attended an earlier CDHB meeting on the day of the July meeting, but had an “urgent work priority” which meant he had to leave before the disability committee meeting that afternoon.
Mr Mene also works for Regenerate Christchurch, as partnerships and engagement general manager, and also runs his own consultancy business.
He said he would have attended the September meeting, but would have left early because of a family medical matter.
“However, when it became apparent that we would not have a quorum with me present Tracey Chambers made the call to cancel or postpone the meeting,” he said.
He said he always read agendas for meetings, even when he did not attend.
“I also attend a range of community health and disability network forums and stay current with regional and national disability publications. Contribution as a board and committee member is more than just attending meetings.”
Mr Keown said part of the problem was that there were only two external committee members who were not members of the health board, compared with five last year.
They are CDHB health advisor Sandy Lockhart and former health board member Olive Webb.
That meant the committee was smaller, and it had more of an impact if members were missing, he said.
Mr Keown said the committee had discussed appointing other committee members, but that had been held up by Ms Chambers because she wanted to find people who were “a good fit with the direction of the committee”.
He said he had missed a meeting because it clashed with an annual planning meeting he had to attend in his other role as a city councillor.