The Community Health Council (CHC) is an advisory council for the Southern District Health Board and WellSouth Primary Health Network (hospital and community health services including GPs) and has enabled a stronger patient voice to be heard across the Southern district. Following the Treaty of Waitangi Principles: Partnership, Participation and Protection, the CHC was developed to improve the quality and delivery of healthcare from the perspective of the patient. Established in February 2017, Karen and Charlotte are here to inform and promote awareness of the CHC Council and its role within our community.

A lay body, originally volunteers with staggered terms of office, the CHC meet monthly with Health Professionals to discuss current concerns, areas of misinformation and how best to address patient needs and enhance their experience. With 4.7 million Ne w Zealanders and 20 DHBs under the NZ Health System, Southern Health is the largest geographical DHB and the most sparsely populated, catering for 320,000 - 2 people per square kilometre. With 4 urban Hospitals, 5 rural Hospitals and Well Care contracts with 84 Primary Care Practices to maintain and manage, the CHC advocated for a “one stop shop” for all health needs and questions. Providing accessible, easy to follow information on how the health system works i.e how to get an appointment, and listing an A -Z of health care providers in all the various southern locations to ensure you can find the right help that you, as the patient, require. The Southern Health Webpage link 

As a community voice, the CHC has established a framework around the various processes for patient engagement; 






The 34 advisors are currently working on 21 active projects all using the above tools as the guiding principles for quality patient engagement. An example of a CHC idea that has now come to fruition is a procedure video of what to expect when having a Radiology appointment. These active projects are different to the other major focus for our Health System at present, the Dunedin Hospital Rebuild. At a cost of $1.48 billion, the CHC has 22 advisors in 9 Super FiT groups that continually look to support and suggest improvements from, as you guessed, the patient’s perspective. 

Where to next for the CHC?

Ensuring the consumer as members of our community continue to have a voice within the FiT groups. A 10 page dictionary of acronyms has been an exceptionally worthwhile acquisition for all the groups. To evaluate all feedback and provide a snapshot of community engagement per quarter to the DHB and provide an elected Board that is more governance focused.

Karen and Charlotte are well aware that good things take time and it will take a few years to really see the full impact of the CHC and its work, however they are very proud of the work they have done and continue to do. Interestingly Robyn C, who works in the Health Sector, admitted to not knowing about the CHC. She thought it was great that lay people were interested and wanted to help. Robyn thanked Karen and Charlotte for enlightening us in what was out there in Southern Health, wishing them all the best in spreading the word.