Kia ora,

My name is Grant Brookes. I'm standing for election to Capital & Coast District Health Board.

The most trusted profession have put their trust in me, electing me President of the New Zealand Nurses Organisation. Now I'm asking you to put me at the top of your list of DHB candidates this October.

I am committed to:

  • Fences at the top of the cliff, not ambulances below
  • Reversing the decline in our health funding
  • Money for health improvement, not CEO pay rises
  • Putting the "care" back into Aged Care
  • Whānau Ora – family well-being for all

  • Having stood for the Board in 2013 and narrowly missed out, I now aim to become part of a fresh, like-minded team with the energy to meet today's health challenges.

    You can find out more About me and My priorities by clicking on the links, or by contacting me on 021 053 2973, or emailing grant_brookes at paradise dot net dot nz.

    Candidates want nursing's voice heard

    Two long-time NZNO activists and board members, Grant Brookes and Heather Symes, have decided to run in the October local body elections for the Capital and Coast and Canterbury District Health Boards (DHBs) respectively.

    Both are mental health nurses. Both are motivated by a desire to advocate for low income, migrant, Pasifica and Maori communities, and to ensure a nursing voice is heard at the board table.

    Brookes said over the last 11 years working for CCDHB he had seen the impact of board decisions on the staff and the public. "I am motivated to stand by the values of health equality, to lift up the health and well-being of the disadvantaged majority," he said.
    He’s concerned about underfunding of health which is driving integration, privatisation and erosion of services.

    Symes, who will be running on a People’s Choice ticket in Christchurch, said health was a political arena and she wanted to speak for those who didn’t have a voice – “those who use specialist mental health services, the elderly, youth who are disengaged, tangata whenua and those who belong to the 140 different nationalities living in Christchurch and who are not using health services.”

    Both say their experience as NZNO board members stands them in good stead for governance of the wider health sector. “I have experience in health sector governance as a current NZNO board member. I have extensive knowledge of the DHB sector as the convenor of the DHB national delegates’ committee. But, above all, I’m a long-serving staff nurse at Wellington Hospital and I’m in touch with the realities of care at the bedside, in the clinics and the community. I will bring these realities to the board table,” Brookes said.

    Symes says as a staff nurse at the regional semi-secure forensic unit at Hillmorton Hospital, Te Whare Manaaki, she works with some of “society’s most vulnerable and most despised and, as a nurse, I have to be political.” She says many “professional directors” have little knowledge and less understanding of the realities of the health sector, while nurses, the sector’s largest workforce, knew where the stresses and strains were within the system. 

    Symes believes national health targets are a good idea for those targeted “but what about those who are not included in the six targets? The targets are at the expense of many other people’s health needs.”

    Brookes, whose campaign slogan is “Health First”, said while DHB members were responsible to the Minister of Health, they also had a “moral responsibility” to their constituency. “I will put my policies to voters. If elected, I will be morally bound to pursue them. I will also work to empower staff and community groups.”

    Given the growing contractual links between DHBs and other healthcare agencies, he believes DHBs should also be looking at imposing some kind of contractual obligations on aged-care providers to improve pay and staffing in the sector.

    Both Symes and Brookes are looking forward to the election campaign and will continue in their clinical roles if elected.

    If elected, they will join a small band of nurses already on DHBs and who are running again. These nurses include Pauline Alan-Downs will be running for a third term on the Northland DHB. Primary health care nurse Yvonne Boyes is hoping for a fourth term on the Bay of Plenty DHB, a board which has boasted three nurses over its last few terms: Boyes, NZNO president Marion Guy and board chair, Sally Webb. 

    Guy is not yet decided whether she will run again. NZNO board member Karen Naylor, who works in women’s health, will be running for her second term on MidCentral DHB. “I sit on the DHB with the same aspirations as I sit on the NZNO board – how can this be better for patients and better for staff?”

    NZNO’s advocacy and empowerment project team wants members to engage in the election process and to care about who is running for their local DHB. 

    “We really want members, regardless of where in the health sector they work, to think about the influence the DHB has one their work and the people they care for,” NZNO’s campaigns adviser Huia Welton said.