Capital Coast DHB candidate Eileen Brown chairs the Newtown Union Health Service Board, a primary care service for people on low incomes. For the last 10 years, Eileen has worked for the Council of Trade Unions as a senior policy analyst; previously she worked in nursing in many areas including mental health and neuro rehabilitation. Eileen is standing as a Labour candidate. She’d be great on the DHB. See her Facebook page.
Eileen says “I am motivated by to ensuring everyone, no matter their income or their post code, has access to the health care they need”. She says: “the health system has to deliver excellent health services for people with high and complex needs, such as refugees, Māori and Pasifika, those on low incomes and those for whom accessing health services can be hard.”
She is keen to get on the District Health Board to make sure our democratic processes are being used effectively.
Eileen describes herself as “located in the community, good at representing and advocating for the needs of people” and experienced in working in coalitions and teams. She has been an NZNOdelegate and before that a PSA delegate representing mental health nurses. She is a proud E tū member.
Her campaign launch, C’mon Eileen, was attended by Annette King, Labour Deputy Leader and Health Spokesperson, and Justin Lester, Labour’s candidate for Mayor of Wellington. “I’m also in contact with the Green Party candidate as a result of the memorandum of understanding between the two parties. Standing on a party ticket means that my accountability is much greater than if I were standing as an independent.”
Eileen wants the DHB to have a stronger focus on public health, which she describes as “taking a population approach to health needs, rather than an individual approach.” She gives the examples of a suicide prevention project in schools and workplaces; “health education, illness prevention and health promotion can change behaviour and thinking at a community level. She has a public health degree, is a member of the Public Health Association, and believes “public health is critical as a response to the significant health challenges we face.”
Eileen sees a major issue for CCDHB is health funding. “The DHB is underfunded. Mental health services and the workforce are under enormous pressure, which is a huge concern for people and families who want care.” It takes months for young people to get seen by mental health services, she says. “If young people ask for help, say counselling for anxiety and can’t get assistance, their conditions and situation are likely to get worse. We need to do better than this and we can. “
Health issues in the CCDHB district vary according to location. “In Porirua it’s about the needs of children, access to primary care and decent housing. Up the Kapiti coast, where the population is older, there are concerns about travelling to hospital services and having access to accident and emergency services after hours. ”
Eileen wants to be a voice for communities with particular health needs – “those on low incomes, with mental health needs, people less able to advocate for themselves”. Once elected my priorities will be mental health, waiting lists, access to primary health care and advocating for higher health funding. It’s about the right health services for people, and for some groups it’s about the right of people to determine their own services.”
She will “support health workers – nurses, doctors, allied health professionals and carers. It’s an increasingly difficult job with stretched resources. We need a difference in carers’ weekly pay; we need to continue to fight on equal pay. I support a Living Wage, and it would be a great advance if DHBs could commit to this. A living wage is a way to increase everyone’s ability to live a decent life. A living wage is an important determinant for good health”
With acknowledgement to Jenny Rankine – Lesbian News Aotearoa