A long wait for health watchdog

By ZOE SATHERLEY

EIGHT months after applications closed Northern Rivers people are still waiting to hear who has been appointed to the new North Coast Area Health Service Advisory Council.

It was widely anticipated the health watchdog would be up and running before the end of the financial year.

In fact, venues have twice been booked for the new group's orientation and have had to be cancelled, according to Dr Sue Page, who has already been appointed as chairwoman of the council.

The process initially took a long time because there were hundreds of applicants for the eight advisory councils across the State, Dr Page said.

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"They all had to have their CVs and references checked, and many had to be interviewed, although we didn't see a need to do interviews in our area as the best applicants were already so well-known to us," Dr Page said.

Now the process has stalled because the new Health Minister, John Hatzistergos, wants to read through the CVs of all short-listed applicants, Dr Page said.

She said there had been more than 100 applications for the 12 positions on the North Coast Area council alone, with one-in-six applicants being from an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander background.

"The area health chief, Chris Crawford, and I went through all of the applicants and came up with a short-list," Dr Page said. "It was a tortuous process because there were so many excellent candidates. We have tried to make our selection as representative as possible.

"We have sent our short-list to the Minister for consideration. I anticipate that we might be able to announce the new council within four to six weeks."

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