Raising awareness of the vital role the Community Health Council (CHC) plays in improving the quality of how health services are delivered in the Southern district is a top priority for new CHC chairperson Karen Browne.

Karen Browne, CHC Chair

With 40-plus years’ experience in various roles in health care and the tertiary education sector, Karen has been involved with the CHC since its inception, serving on the steering group that established the Council in 2016. She has made a point of participating in most CHC public meetings and forums since and was a CHC advisor on two service review projects – giving a patient perspective to help clinicians and managers to change and improve how health care is delivered in the Southern Health System.

 “The Community Health Council has played a vital role ensuring that patients, whānau and our communities have a strong voice and their views are heard. Now it’s time to raise the profile of the work the Council does among communities and stakeholder groups across the Southern district,” says Karen. “I want to build on the foundations laid by the establishment chair and CHC members, and further support integration of the patient voice into an overall improved health services.”  

Brought up in Middlemarch, Karen began her career as an enrolled nurse in Auckland and subsequently worked as an ambulance officer and supervisor with Wellington Free Ambulance Communications Centre, and as a CPR trainer and cardio-pulmonary technician at Hutt Velley Health. Karen returned to the South in 2008 and worked in health administration at the Otago Medical School, until retiring in mid-2018.

Southern DHB Chief Executive, Chris Fleming, said the CHC’s input is important to help support changes and improvements to health services and models of care.

“Clinicians and managers alike acknowledge that the patient and whānau perspective that the CHC brings to the table is invaluable, helping us to improve how we deliver health care services across the district,” Chris says. “This role will become even more important as we continue to implement the primary and community strategy and we get into a more detailed planning phase for the new Dunedin Hospital.”

“We are very pleased to welcome Karen as our new chair,” says Paula Waby, CHC member. “She has proven dedication to the work of the CHC through her early involvement and participation in public forums and the Council will benefit from her knowledge of health care, both from a provider and a consumer point of view.”

Karen takes up her new role this month and will chair the first CHC meeting 7 March. She succeeds Professor Sarah Derrett, who stepped up to challenge of establishing and guiding the CHC through its first two years of development and leaves the Council in a very strong position to grow and provide a strong voice for patients and whānau in the Southern district.


About the Community Health Council

The Community Health Council aims to make sure that our communities, whānau and patients have a strong voice in planning, designing and delivering services across the Southern Health System, including input into the development of health service priorities and strategies. 

The Council was established in February 2017 as a joint initiative of the Southern DHB and WellSouth.

The Community Health Council’s role is to:

  • Ensure and enable communities, whānau and patient participation across the Southern district and national health systems. 
  • Identify and advise on health systems and services for communities, whānau and patients, including input into the development of health service priorities and strategies. 
  • Ensure reports, developments and initiatives relating to health services have appropriately engaged, or been developed with, communities, whānau and patients. 
  • Ensure regular communication and networking with the communities, whānau and patient groups. 
  • Link up with special interest groups as required, for specific issues and problem solving.

For more about becoming a CHC Community, Whānau and Patient Advisor