Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Bright future for Healthy Futures Bill

A special Select Committee has been set up to consider the Pae Ora (Healthy Futures) Bill and and hear public submissions, Health Minister Andrew Little announced today.

The Bill passed its first reading in Parliament today.

“We are fixing a public health system that has, for far too long, failed Māori and many others who have been left out,” Minister Little said.

“This Government is committed to building a new health system that provides better national coordination and more consistent support, so all New Zealanders can get the health care they need no matter who they are or where they live.

“The special Select Committee will ensure we draw on a wide range of strengths, knowledge and perspectives when it comes to the next stages of the health reforms.”

The Bill replaces the 20 District Health Boards with Health New Zealand – a new Crown organisation – to provide a national health service with a strong focus on primary health care. It also establishes an independent Māori Health Authority to work in partnership with Health New Zealand.

“The Māori Health Authority is about transforming Māori health outcomes which will be a game changer for our people,” Associate Health Minister (Māori Health) Peeni Henare said.

“This is our chance to address the disproportionate health inequities that have significantly affected our Māori communities. When we put people at the centre of the healthcare experience it is more likely that people including Māori will reach out when they need to – this could save more lives.”

The Bill recognises the role of Iwi-Māori Partnership Boards for the first time and also establishes a hauora Maori advisory group to advise the Minister of Health on exercising powers in relation to the Maori Health Authority.

It also establishes an expanded Public Health Agency within the Ministry of Health to lead public health strategy, as well as an expert advisory committee on public health.

The Ministry of Health will continue to act as the health system’s chief steward, providing policy advice to the Government and regulating and monitoring the way the health system works.

“The bill will now go to a special Select Committee and all New Zealanders will have a chance to have their say about what they want our future health system to look like,” Mr Little said.

“To be successful we need to change how we do things throughout the system – more detail of how the new system will operate day-to-day will follow on from the Bill.”

The Bill is expected to be passed next year, and will come into effect on July 1, 2022.

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