New North West Hospital and Health Service board chair Cheryl Vardon has said they will create a new position to add to local representation on the board.
After nine months of the NWHHS being run by an administrator, Ms Vardon was appointed as chair of a new board in March, along with eight directors, though there was some criticism that only four of the nine were based in the North West.
Ms Vardon said that while all nine had some experience of the region, they would now listening to the message from the community that they would like a stronger voice on the board and she was taking steps to address that.
"There is a vacancy and I will make sure that vacancy is advertised specifically targetting north west applicants," Ms Vardon said.
"I will be the contact person for that so people can talk to me about the nature of the work and make sure they get good information.
"In a few months I'm very confident we'll get equal representation on the board."
Ms Vardon said the incoming board was a great group of enthusiastic people who understand they were there not just to watch what was going on but to be also part of the community and be visible in the community.
Ms Vardon said she brought a really good understanding of governance to the role and without good governance a whole range of areas could be critically compromised.
"Governance is first and foremost the safety and care and quality of service provided to people who need it, that's absolutely paramount," Ms Vardon said.
"The next pillar would be living within your means and being careful with money."
Ms Vardon said the board's immediate priority was to understand the issues affecting the pillars of governance she identified, especially important given that financial issues caused the downfall of the last board
"(We need) a really good understanding of financial matters not just in the north west but across Queensland because there is great pressure on the system statewide," she said.
"We also need a better understanding of the issues for the North West in particular and setting ourselves community engagement opportunities."
Ms Vardon said that over the last nine months the NWHHS has had a recovery program to address financial issues and the budget was now balanced.
"We are ensuring money is spent where it needs to be spent," she said.
"As for the future I'm optimistic that will be something when the budget is announced."
The North West Star asked about issues raised by Robbie Katter re the lack of mental health in-patients and shortage of dialysis chairs.
Ms Vardon said there was no plan for mental health in-patients who would continue to go to Townsville to access a greater range of services.
"But for me, it's that early intervention from allied health providers that is absolutely key before mental health issues become acute," she said.
As for dialysis chairs, Ms Vardon said there had been an improvement of provision especially to on country sites with a commitment for further action.
Opposition leader David Crisafulli had claimed waiting lists were too high in the North West and Ms Vardon said they were "monitoring" the issue that were affecting some services.
"The north west is just seeing some long waits and my advice is that this is not directly related to COVID but rather some services are getting loaded and are simply not available immediately," she said.
Ms Vardon said they would also be looking at opportunities to relieve the pressure on their service centres across the region.
Longer term they wanted to look at flexible recruitment and providing training opportunities not available elsewhere.
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