New Zealand’s reform of the nation’s health care agenda has taken a step forward with the unveiling of the system that will hold it accountable and ensure it delivers more equitable care, Health Minister Andrew Little says.
The Government has already announced that the existing 20 district health boards are being replaced with a new national system aimed at putting a greater focus on primary healthcare.
It is claimed that this will bring an end to the “postcode lottery system of health services” and cut bureaucracy so health workers can focus more on patients.
On Friday, Little launched the Health System Indicators framework that will complement the reforms.
New Indicators are neither a carrot nor a stick
“The indicators are a new way of thinking. They are not about incentivising with funding or pointing the finger if targets are not met – they are neither a carrot nor a stick,” the minister stated.
“They are a measure of how well our health system is functioning across the country, and an opportunity to then create local solutions to address local health needs. This framework will help the sector focus on the areas that most need to improve – especially for Māori and Pacific peoples.
According to Little, the indicators are based on six priorities for health: improving child wellbeing; enhancing mental wellbeing; improving all New Zealanders’ wellbeing through preventative measures; creating a strong and equitable public health system; better primary health care; and creating a financially sustainable health system.
“Twelve indicators have been developed and progress in meeting them will be publicly reported on every three months,” Little said.
Previous Health Targets strategy is ineffective
“When the indicators show there is a problem, health services will work with local communities to come up with effective ways to fix it.”
The indicators replace the National Health Targets regime, which the Government believes is outdated and ineffective
“The targets have been in place since 2007 and there’s plenty of evidence – from New Zealand and other countries – that they don’t work,” Little explained.
“They are arbitrary and don’t reflect the real priorities of the health system.
“Even worse, they led to what can only be described as perverse outcomes – with district health boards … doing lots of small procedures instead [of] fewer major ones so they could claim more people were being treated.”