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.

    Guest editorial in Tobacco Control Update

    (Thanks to The Smokefree Coalition, for allowing me to contribute a guest editorial to the latest issue of Tobacco Control Update).


    Staff at Te Whare O Matairangi recently celebrated a birthday. On 2 July, Wellington's refurbished Mental Health Recovery Unit, where I work, turned one.
    The $7.8 million, state-of-the-art facility at Capital & Coast DHB has enabled the development of a new model of care – less restrictive, more collaborative and more home-like.
    Importantly, 2 July was also the first anniversary of our Unit going smokefree.
    The journey to smokefree status was not all plain sailing. When planning for the new unit began in 2009, a majority of staff were opposed to the idea. Some nurses believed that doing away with designated smoking areas in the ward would lead to increased incidence of violence, restraint and seclusion.
    Others felt it was paternalistic to enforce abstinence on service users who were detained under the Mental Health Act, and unable to go off the premises to smoke.
    One nurse wrote to the Human Rights Commissioner, seeking an opinion on whether a ban would breach patients' statutory rights.
    However with the support of management, staff and consumer advocates examined the research and worked through the difficulties. Over a three year period, we came up with a set of policies and procedures for a successful transition.
    Issues do remain, such as the relative unpopularity of patches compared with e-cigarettes as a mechanism for NRT among our client group, and the need for more organised activities to replace smoking.
    The incidence of tobacco use, among staff as well as service users, is falling. Admission to the psych ward is no longer synonymous with days spent puffing and clouds of second-hand smoke.
    The smokefree journey also confirmed to me the ability of staff to successfully drive positive change in the DHB.
    Sadly, the expertise and practical knowledge of clinicians is too often lacking in health sector governance. A desire to bring this expertise to the board table has impelled me to stand for election to Capital & Coast DHB this October.
    As a nurse, I think decision-makers need to know the realities of care at the bedside and in the community. From this perspective, smoking cessation makes perfect sense as part of an "ambulance at the top of the cliff" approach to healthcare, which aims to keep people well and prevent avoidable illnesses.
    It's equally clear, from where I sit, that we need to put the care back into aged care and strengthen local democracy, not remote health bureaucracy. Nurses also know that health is based on whānau ora – family well-being.
    Contracting out and privatisation might make sense to the accountants, but clinical experience frequently tells otherwise.
    I hope to be successful in the local elections this year, for the well-being of our district. And in so doing, I hope to set an example for other nurses to follow.

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