Stephen Butcher: your face on our DHB

                                                                                                                      Telephone 3727778          email:


I am standing for Wairarapa DHB because I have a passion to see real improvement in health and health care.

I shall add material to this site over the coming months so please check back as we head towards the elections.

First, my candidate statement, slightly condensed, which will appear with your voting papers (or you can scroll straight down to the Aims section):

Candidate Statement:

I stand for better service and focused management.

I support:

              - reduced working hours for doctors
              - wage increases for nurses and aged care staff
              - the Scottish Childsmile programme for children's teeth
              - the better Long Term 2 (LT2) Standard for water treatment, and
              - cessation of chlorine dosing to reduce cancer and heart failure rates
              - antioxidant treatments for cancers, for improved outcomes
              - expanded mental health services and magnesium glycinate treaments
              - reduced air pollution to lower the incidence of breast cancer in women
                      and heart failure in men.

I support lower salaries for the CEO and Board members.

I am 64, married, and my tertiary qualifications are Dip.BS (Building Surveying) and B.Arch (Architecture). I have many years experience in project and contract management, and have the skills necessary for fiscal responsibility at Board level.

My Campaign:

As part of my campaign I am refraining from including my mug shot. So you'll be pleased to know that I expect you to judge me on policy.

Aims of the Wairarapa DHB:

The aim of our DHB is: "Our performance is measured against national health targets...(which) provide a focus for action and are reviewed annually to ensure they align with government health priorities.

There are six national health targets:

    1. Shorter stays in Emergency Departments
    2. Improved access to elective surgery
    3. Shorter waits for cancer treatment
    4. Increased immunisation
    5. Better help for smokers to quit
    6. Raising healthy kids."

An effective goal might consist of "Aim" (what health improvement are we seeking?), then "Method" (how might we achieve this, which can be by multiple means?) and then "Review" (are we achieving the desired health improvement?).

The budget of our DHB is around $153 million per annum. This does relate to aim, we just need some numbers first:

The $153m breaks down, roughly, to:

              - Admin                       $4m
              - Hospital                  $61m
              - Aged care               $26m
              - Drugs                     $12m
              - Capitation               $11m (subsides to "cap" fees, etc)
              - Mental health           $4m         
              - IDF outflows           $40m (see below)

Leaving aside my desire to see the books, the big discrepancy is the "IDF outflow" - which stands for "Inter-District Flow."

Put another way, the elephant in the room is the enormous cost of sending cancer patients to other hospitals for treatment. If this wasn't so high, we usefully could do a great deal better in terms of supporting staff and providing a better service, all within budget.

The goals or aims, as guidance from the Ministry, don't address this issue. If we look at (3) above, "shorter waits for cancer treatments," it is apparent that this is a Method. We might guess the Aim is improved survival rates after treatment. If we look at (5) above, "better help for smokers to quit," again this is a Method if we presume the goal to be preventing lung cancer.

So goal (1) and goal (5) are aspects of the same unstated Aim of less cancer victims.

If we reduce the number of smokers, lung cancer will not go down proportionately. Benzo-a-pyrene from cigarette smoking attaches to DNA to form mutations because the DNA is oxidised. In the absence of benzo-a-pyrene, another carcinogen will fill the same role. It is just that benzo-a-pyrene preferentially attaches  to DNA because it loses the most amount of energy in the attachment process.

Too much information?

It means most cancers are caused by oxidation of DNA from our faulty drinking water treatment processes.

If our Aim was to cut cancer admissions in half, and not spend, say, $20m on IDF outflows, then we would need to alter water treatment processes. That would be a seriously uphill battle, but an achievable first step would be to reduce the alkalinity of drinking water in our Wairarapa towns. For example, a change of 0.3 on the pH scale is proportional to a halving in cancer incidence (the pH scale is logrithmic).

Not sure? Eyes rolling? The incidence of cancer in Masterton is 4 times that of Wellington. It is 9 times higher than it was in 1968 before the chlorinator was installed. Halving cancer rates isn't an impossible dream, it is the bare minimum we should expect to do.

So my point is that the elephant has to be acknowledged - and our aim has to be to get cancer rates down and ultimately this means going to the LT2 Standard.

Having set out my thoughts, and no doubt invited criticism (where is Open Parachute these days?), I invite you to read further, if you wish, from the following peer reviewed articles.

Scholarly Articles:

Yang et al.  This paper is brilliant for the size of the sampling and control of confounders. It clearly demonstrates what we already know, which is that chlorination doubles the incidence of cancers, on average (that large sample). So our 9 fold increase puts us to shame.

EPA on chlorination.  This copy is from the Federal Register and sets out the confirmed side effects of outdated chlorination processes.

Cameron and Pauling.  One of my favourite articles. These two rather clever people (well, Pauling has a Nobel Prize) took terminal untreatable cancer patients and achieved very good results. I think they might know something about oxidation!

This is only a brief list, so on to mental health:

Eby et al.  Small study, but outstanding results. This suggests a trial of magnesium glycinate as supportive therapy should be a high priority. Of note is the comment that drinking water treatments strip magnesium out of water supplies, suggesting that high cancer rates and high rates of depression go hand in hand.

Rubenowitz et al.  The counter opinion that alkalinity and magnesium protect against heart disease, but tactfully concludes that the effect is really due to magnesium alone (to avoid criticism from commercial interests, probably, such as the Chlorine Chemistry Council).

And to air pollution.

Ministry of Health. Research contracted out, Massey University mainly. Tested for Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) such as polychlorinated biphenols, dioxins and furans in mothers' milk. Insecticides are sources (decreasingly), as well as burning rubbish (increasingly). An example would be burning waste on a farm and mum drinking water from roof water collection, and smoke drift from towns entering the food chain via contaminated pasture. These POPs are passed on to baby with resultant developmental problems.
So, the Aim is?

In this election there is an opportunity for a clean sweep. The current model of governance has done remarkably well considering just how overloaded our DHB has become - but it cannot continue, in my opinion, without earning the frustration of the Minister who expects fiscal responsibility and governance with vision.

Vote 1 for Butcher and do your bit to support new policy and a revitalised DHB.


Your face on our DHB:

vote 1 for BUTCHER

telephone 3727778    email