Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Health reform a work in progress says Minister

Health Minister, Shane Reti says the latest report into New Zealand’s health reforms shows a few benefits, but overall demonstrates a lack of leadership by the previous Labour government. 

The Ministerial Advisory Committee (MAC) report released today was commissioned by the previous government to provide an independent assessment on health reform implementation. Dr Reti says a significant number of the problems it has uncovered stem from a lack of Ministerial oversight and political incompetence.

“This is the first MAC report I’ve received as Minister of Health and I want to firstly acknowledge our hard working health workforce who have had to make the best of the previous government’s flawed ideology and management,” he said.

“Nobody questions the complexity involved in amalgamating 20 district health boards and eight shared services under one national organisation of around 85 thousand people. However questions remain around the wisdom of removing all DHBs, given the Simpson report suggested only a reduction. 

“The previous government also brought additional problems on itself by implementing complicated reform in the middle of a global pandemic.”

The report notes:

  • significant ongoing pressures for community and primary care, including around access and sustainability ;
  • confusion over the role of ‘localities’ in the new system;
  • an urgent need for an agreed public health operating model;
  • risk around Health New Zealand – Te Whatu Ora’s ‘transformation’ change being subsumed by operational challenges.

“I do want to acknowledge positives, including delivery of last year’s Winter Preparedness Plan and a more effective way of transferring patients between areas to get access to treatment, but overall, it’s clear that turning the health ship around will take years of intensive work,” Dr Reti says.

“For that to happen, it’s going to mean putting workforce at the fore.  Frontline health workers must have the resources and support they need to provide effective health services.”

He said the coalition Government was committed to delivering solutions that provide better health outcomes for all New Zealanders. 

“National has committed to not going back to the DHB model – it’s too far down the process to go back. We are committed to ensuring the health system is fit for purpose with a clear pragmatic direction and a focus on workforce, targets and infrastructure.”

“I would like to thank the Ministerial Advisory Committee headed by Sue Suckling for their work in producing this report, with its insights.

“I’m now looking forward to seeing the progress the coalition Government will make in improving the health system for all New Zealanders.”

The progress assessment was produced by the Ministerial Advisory Committee for health reform implementation and can be found at Proactive release of reforms-related documents | Ministry of Health NZ.

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