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Canterbury GP teams stand with their hospital colleagues

Canterbury General Practice teams stand with their hospital colleagues

As chairs of the three Primary Health Organisations representing all Canterbury general practices we fully support our hospital colleagues’ position as outlined by Dr Alistair Humphrey in the Christchurch Press 19 July 2017.

We too are appalled at the underhand tactics and behaviours being used by politicians, policy makers and senior health ministry officials to attack elected board members, senior management and clinicians of Canterbury DHB. Last week’s sensationalist front page feature describing a treasury “briefing” represents a new low both in terms of content and timing.

The extremely short interval of a few hours between the posting of the Official Information Act response on one of treasury’s web pages and the published article appearing online on the media site "Stuff" raises questions of a pre-posting tip off to the journalist from the highest level. We too remember and are reminded of the acrimonious events leading up to the Stent report in the 1990s. Over the last 25 years in Canterbury we have organised general practice to a degree that our ongoing innovation and integration with other parts of the health system and our partnerships with the community puts Canterbury at the forefront not just of New Zealand, as recognised by multiple national awards, but of the world.

These achievements, reflected as they are in many clear improvements in patient care, have occurred despite ongoing erosion of national support and latterly by destructive behaviours from the centre. These behaviours driven not by what is best for patient care but an apparent desire to stifle local autonomy and to break the unusual cohesion and shared purpose of clinicians, managers and the Canterbury community we all serve.

We expect the same cohesion, organisation, shared purpose and focus on patient care from the government and the Ministry of Health which sadly, and in stark contrast, seems to us and to many to have lost its way in fulfilling its leadership role in the health system.

An immediate, independent, comprehensive and transparent review of Canterbury’s overall funding is necessary. One which includes assessing the real cost of the unprecedented large scale natural disaster caused by the earthquakes, the major rebuild and the application of the population based formula to the actual population statistics.

Echoing Disraeli’s immortalised words, “There are three kinds of lies: Lies, damned lies, and statistics.” The unhelpful invective from the ill-informed treasury officials in their pre-budget briefing illustrates why such a review cannot be left to government departments whose independence has to be questioned.

We believe it is totally unacceptable for the health of Cantabrians (and beyond as Christchurch is a tertiary referral centre) to be held hostage to the whims of unsavoury party or personality politics by those in positions of influence.

Professor Les Toop
Chair Pegasus Health

Dr Lorna Martin
Chair Rural Canterbury PHO

Dr Angus Chambers
Chair Christchurch PHO

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