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Consumer Council for Waikato District Health Board

John McIntosh at Consumer Council workshop
Life Unlimited community liaison John McIntosh attended a Consumer Council workshop held by Waikato DHB on 9 November.

29 November 2019 – John McIntosh

Recently I attended a workshop to help design a model of Consumer Council that works for Waikato communities.

This workshop was held by the Waikato District Health Board (DHB) in partnership with the Health and Quality Safety Commission and invitees were from a wide range of community organisations and interested individuals who are Waikato DHB health service users. The DHB believe it is important that consumers be involved in the design and development of a Consumer Council.

Chris Walsh from the Health and Quality Safety Commission chaired the meeting with valuable insights from Graeme Norton, chair of the Hawke’s Bay Consumer Council.

It appears that many district health boards have already embarked on this journey to develop Consumer Councils, however they vary in the detail of their implementation. For example, in Hawke’s Bay their Council replaced many of the specialised advisory groups, while in Northland the opposite is true with advisory groups still in place and active. Each Council has approximately 15 – 20 community members.

Waikato DHB is committed to engaging consumers of health services in a meaningful way to help make sure they deliver people-centred services and meet the needs of the wider communities.

It is believed that a Consumer Council would provide an effective formal structure for consumer input into important issues for the DHB on an on-going basis. Importantly, it is believed it could drive consumer involvement in service improvement.

Peolp esitting around tables at a workshop
The November workshop discussed what a Consumer Council could look like for Waikato.

A Consumer Council would work collaboratively with Waikato DHB, governance and management teams to:

  • provide an effective voice for communities and consumers on health service planning and delivery
  • provide an over-arching strategic and governance role regarding consumer engagement. This will include driving consumer engagement and ensuring consumers are engaged in service improvement projects
  • promote, oversee and provide input into key strategic plans
  • facilitate links and communication with services.

A Consumer Council would support the Waikato DHB Strategy to deliver on priorities of:

  • People-centred care
    • utilise the expertise of communities, providers, agencies and specialists in the design of health and care services
    • provide care and services that are respectful and responsive to individual and whānau needs and values
  • Health equity for high needs populations.

This is just the beginning of the journey. The next step is a series of hui to get input from the wider community. I look forward to the results of the hui and beginning the process.

We would be keen to hear from other organisations around New Zealand already involved with consumer councils particularly how they work with organisations like Life Unlimited who offer health and disability services.

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