District health boards (DHBs) are responsible for providing or funding the provision of health services in their district. Disability support services and some health services are funded and purchased nationally by the Ministry of Health.
There are 20 DHBs in New Zealand and each DHB is governed by a board of up to 11 members. DHB boards set the overall strategic direction for the DHB and monitor its performance.
The Minister of Health appoints up to four members to each board, and the board’s chair and deputy chair. Find out more on the DHB appointments page.
Seven members are publicly elected every three years at the time of local government elections.
The Minister can also appoint Crown monitors to boards, in certain circumstances.
Objectives and roles of DHBs
The New Zealand Public Health and Disability Act 2000 created DHBs.
It sets out their objectives, which include:
- improving, promoting and protecting the health of people and communities
- promoting the integration of health services, especially primary and secondary care services
- seeking the optimum arrangement for the most effective and efficient delivery of health services in order to meet local, regional, and national needs
- promoting effective care or support of those in need of personal health services or disability support.
There are currently 20 DHBs in New Zealand. They are required to plan and deliver services regionally, as well as in their own individual areas.
Other DHB objectives include:
- promoting the inclusion and participation in society and the independence of people with disabilities
- reducing health disparities by improving health outcomes for Māori and other population groups
- reducing – with a view toward elimination – health outcome disparities between various population groups.
DHBs are expected to show a sense of social responsibility, to foster community participation in health improvement, and to uphold the ethical and quality standards commonly expected of providers of services and public sector organisations.
Public hospitals are owned and funded by DHBs.