Clarence snub in board row

THE Clarence Valley will have only one representative on the Northern NSW Local Health District Board, at least until another vacancy comes up.

NSW Health Minister Jillian Skinner confirmed last night the vacancy created when Grafton broadcaster Ron Bell resigned earlier this year would be filled by a "Tweed clinician" as per a promise she had made earlier.

"The process of recruiting a local clinician to the board is under way and I hope to make the successful candidate aware in the next few days," she said.

Member for Clarence Steve Cansdell said he was disappointed the appointment had not gone to a Clarence-based clinician but he had been assured by the minister the next vacancy would be granted to someone from the Clarence.

He said he hoped the residential addresses of the board members would not have a negative influence on outcomes for Clarence Valley health services.

"It means I have to be in constant contact with board members when issues that concern the Clarence arrive," Mr Cansdell said.

He said the board's chair-woman Dr Hazel Bridgett had assured him that a health clinic for Yamba was a top priority for the board, which was reassuring.

"I will be happier when we have another Clarence-based representative on the board," he said. "I would like to see someone of the ilk, experience and passion for the Clarence as Dr Allan Tyson on that board."

Accusations the Northern NSW board, and health boards across the state, were being bled of Labor supporters and replaced with Coalition supporters were denied by Ms Skinner.

A spokeswoman for the minister said many of the appointees made by the former Labor gov-ernment remain, including former Labor premier, Morris Iemma.

"Former Labor members such as Paul Gibson and Tanya Gadiel have also been appointed to the boards," she said. "The minister's main focus is to ensure the boards contain the right mix of skills, regardless of their political ties."

Dr Bridgett told The Examiner the address of board members would not have an influence on their decision-making other than to make them advocates for the Northern Rivers as a whole.

She said several board members worked across the region and across the state and thought in broad strategic terms about the region.

"Funding is based on the activity of the hospital and it will be even more so in the future ... it's quite transparent," Dr Bridgett said.

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