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NZMA seeks more details about Labour policy

The New Zealand Medical Association plans to meet Labour health spokesperson Annette King next week to seek more details about Labour's health policy, which was released today.

NZMA Acting Chairman Dr John Adams said the association was pleased to see the policy's population health goals. "These are commendable, as long as resources are provided to address and monitor the goals," he said.

"We also support the principle and moves towards population based health care, but we need more information about this, particularly the proposed limitations on contracting arrangements."

But the NZMA is yet to be convinced that decentralising the health system into 22 district health boards will bring about improvements in health care for New Zealanders.

"The district health board policy is somewhat ambiguous. It potentially creates a more bureaucratic, hospital-centred approach to health care."

The NZMA is concerned that primary care is being treated as an 'add-on'. Under the policy, primary health advisory committees come under the district health boards, which are based on existing HHS structures.

"We need to ensure that the gains made in primary care over the last few years are not lost."

Another potential concern is the prospect of instability in the health sector arising from a major restructuring of the Health Funding Authority and the Ministry of Health.

"We would urge that changes are kept to a minimum, and carried out in a way which minimises disruption to the provision of health services," Dr Adams said.

"And while it is clear that the new booking system for surgery has not yet produced the results it was intended to address, the NZMA is not convinced that returning to a waiting list-type system will be an improvement."

The NZMA is seeking more information on how the policy would be implemented.

ends

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