Integrated Public Health System Labour's Focus
Labour Releases Health Policy with Focus on a Nationally Integrated Public Health System
The New Zealand Nurses Organisation (NZNO) is pleased by yesterday's announcement of Labour's health policy as it gives ongoing commitment to the public provision of services to ensure the health of New Zealanders and signals sensible plans to strengthen integration of the health system.
An affordable health care system that is accessible to New Zealanders wherever they live is essential. "Our members work daily with communities in poverty or for whom health services are simply inaccessible. Labour's commitment and leadership in achieving fair access to good quality, affordable services is extremely important. It is pleasing to see that this point of focus is continuing as there is much more to achieve." NZNO Chief Executive Geoff Annals said.
"We support Labour's emphasis on accessibility and affordability. This goal requires a skilled and experienced health workforce. Labour's plans to establish a central workforce planning function in the Ministry of Health is welcomed and a long overdue departure from the ad hoc planning of the past."
NZNO is also encouraged to see a strong theme of integration of the whole health sector, running throughout Labour's policy. Geoff Annals said, "The continuation of nationwide health targets, strengthening links between primary and hospital care, plans for district-wide primary healthcare development, regional clinical networks and the promotion of a nationally integrated DHB network, all make plain, good sense to our members. The tragedy is that it has taken so long to reconstruct a nationally integrated health system following its destruction in the 90s."
However NZNO was disappointed with two areas of Labour's policy release; Maori and Iwi primary healthcare workforce development and aged care. "Labour is yet to commit to delivering funding equity for Maori and Iwi primary health care providers so they can deliver fair pay increases to their workers who earn significantly below what other primary health workers earn. And residential aged care is arguably the area in health requiring the most attention and resourcing. Labour has signalled an intention to reduce elder neglect and abuse and to develop a workforce development programme but we are concerned that the appropriate financial resourcing is yet to be committed." Annals said.