Providing health care to an aging population and fluoride are likely to be issues in the upcoming Taranaki DHB elections.

Decisions about putting fluoride in the water are now made by councils, but the government has proposed moving the decision making to DHBs in the next couple of years.

However, Taranaki DHB chairwoman Pauline Lockett doesn’t want people to stand for the DHB just to change its stance on fluoride, she said.

“I would hope people would bring a far broader perspective than coming with one item they think they can change. Our role is ensuring good health outcomes for the community of Taranaki.”

Lockett was one of five board members who were appointed by the Minister of Health, as was deputy chairwoman Sally Webb who lives in Whakatane.

The other seven members were elected, but stood for Taranaki as a whole, not according to where they lived.

Voting papers will be issued between September 16 and 21 and voting ends on October 8.

Hawera health advocate Jenny Nager, who was on the board for the 2007-2010 term, said it was important to elect people from across the province, even though technically those elected were supposed to represent the whole of Taranaki.

“Otherwise they don’t know what is happening in the community.”

The health board needed a wide variety of people with different skills, she said.

“We do have an aging population. And the number of people at the lower socio economic end require more help. And Maori health is always an issue.”

Lockett said anyone thinking of standing for the DHB didn’t necessarily need to come from a medical background, but they needed to know what was going on in the community.

“It’s important to have an understanding of our community particularly those with high needs within the community. And a willingness to build health services as part of the wider social sector.”

Candidates would also need an understanding of DHB business, that it’s not just about the hospitals, she said.

“It’s actually the wider community investment we are making in health services as well. They need an appreciation of the needs of the community within that medical perspective.”

Grey Power health representative Agnes Lehrke said it was important for Taranaki to have good representation on “this very important board.”

“We want good representation on our behalf therefore it is a must to hear what each likely candidate will bring to meetings in representation of us. Consumers are at the forefront of today’s Health Strategy, therefore we need genuine consumer representation.”

Forget the qualifications and eloquent speakers, just seek enthusiastic consumer rights’ campaigners, she said.

“There are many issues very lacking in our health system that the right determined representatives can advocate for change and bring accomplishment for us.”