19 Nov 2016

Govt defends Levy appointment to head three DHBs

7:29 am on 19 November 2016

Labour says the appointment of one chair to run all three of Auckland's district health boards will not improve health services in the city.

Auckland Transport chair Dr Lester Levy outlining today's airport link decision

Dr Lester Levy Photo: RNZ/ Todd Niall

The government appointed Lester Levy as the chair of Counties Manukau DHB this week, a role he already holds for Waitemata and Auckland DHBs - as well as Auckland Transport.

The health boards cover a total of 1.6 million people.

Mr Levy has stepped down as the chief executive of Auckland University's New Zealand Leadership Institute so he could devote enough time to the new role.

But Labour's health spokeswoman Annette King said she doubted whether one person could successfully achieve the government's aim of better access to services across the region.

"You've got three different areas and three different sets of needs ... being able to marry that together across three boards is going to be a real challenge," she said.

"I would like to see, if this is what's going to happen, total concentration on getting what the minister promised - better access to services coordinated across the region."

"My doubt is how one person can do that, actually."

She says the three roles are a big undertaking for one person.

The government would be better putting more money into the DHBs if it really wanted to improve health care, she said.

But Mr Levy said the change would help to streamline services and he was very motivated to improve healthcare for Aucklanders.

"That's what I'm totally focussed on ... and I think I have a record of actually doing that and I have the energy and commitment to continue doing that."

Health Minister Jonathan Coleman said Mr Levy was an extremely capable person who had a done a great job with the Auckland and Waitemata Boards.

He would not have taken on the job if it was too much, Mr Coleman said.

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