Book Reviews | Gordon Campbell | News Flashes | Scoop Features | Scoop Video | Strange & Bizarre | Search


Mercer Induces Déjà Vu For Health Ministers

Former Health Ministers will be feeling an eerie sense of déjà vu with another health boss leaving with bitter words about how hospitals are funded or more specifically how much funding their hospital received in comparison to other hospitals.

The outgoing boss of Capital Coast Health, Leo Mercer, has returned to America saying that his former hospital's inability to remove its financial deficits are the results of years of underfunding in comparison to other hospitals.

It is not a new refrain, during the early and mid-years of the health reforms there were a series of high profile and 'high noise' departures of hospital bosses across the whole spectrum of sizes from the largest to the smallest. In particular, the departure of Dennis Pickup from Auckland is most reminiscent of Mr Mercer's comments.

The latest Health Minister, Wyatt Creech, also echoes Ministers of the past in saying the comments are sad, simplistic and they are trying to work it out.

The funding model for hospitals has always been contentious. In the days of the Area Health Board, the boards received a grant and then divvied it up amongst the wide range of services in their care. This was basically everything but GP fees. Few ever lived within their budgets and Auckland and Wellington were both major headaches for those who controlled the Government's health budget. One board in Auckland was sacked and Wellington came perilously close to the same fate.

The reforms of the early and mid nineties sought to split up the funding for hospitals from other health care and then work began to break down the various hospital services into their individual components.

The argument went that once you broke it down, you could then do comparisons and work out why one hospital was more expensive than another and then fund fairly.

The plan may have looked good in Wellington, but down on the ward floor it caused problems. Every service of every hospital argued it was special and they were right. The problems faced by a general surgeon on the West Coast are very different from those faced by a heart specialist in Auckland or a mental health nurse in Whangarei. Each is special and each faces extra costs that aren't comparable with the others. Everyone is the same in being special.

The system envisaged as pure became more ad hoc over the years with 'special' funding for things as far ranging as the complexity of work done in the big hospitals to the problems faced by small rural hospitals.

While much of the political heat has gone out of the arguments over health funding, they still bubble away and occasionally boil to the surface such in recent days with Leo Mercer.

What makes Mr Mercer's comments more interesting is that he was hand-picked by some of the Government's leading navigators of the health system to sort out Wellington's financial and medical organisation woes by bringing those sometimes opposing priorities together.

His departure with the job clearly not completed on the financial, management or medical levels leaves Wellington Hospital in much the same place it was ten years ago.

Once again the call will call out, 'anyone got a plan'.

© Scoop Media

Top Scoops Headlines


Werewolf: Living With Rio’s Olympic Ruins

Mariana Cavalcanti Critics of the Olympic project can point a discernible pattern in the delivery of Olympics-related urban interventions: the belated but rushed inaugurations of faulty and/or unfinished infrastructures... More>>

Live Blog On Now: Open Source//Open Society Conference

The second annual Open Source Open Society Conference is a 2 day event taking place on 22-23 August 2016 at Michael Fowler Centre in Wellington… Scoop is hosting a live blog summarising the key points of this exciting conference. More>>



Gordon Campbell: On The Politicising Of The War On Drugs In Sport

It hasn’t been much fun at all to see how “war on drugs in sport” has become a proxy version of the Cold War, fixated on Russia. This weekend’s banning of the Russian long jumper Darya Klishina took that fixation to fresh extremes. More>>


Binoy Kampmark: Kevin Rudd’s Failed UN Secretary General Bid

Few sights are sadder in international diplomacy than seeing an aging figure desperate for honours. In a desperate effort to net them, he scurries around, cultivating, prodding, wishing to be noted. Finally, such an honour is netted, in all likelihood just to shut that overly keen individual up. More>>

Open Source / Open Society: The Scoop Foundation - An Open Model For NZ Media

Access to accurate, relevant and timely information is a crucial aspect of an open and transparent society. However, in our digital society information is in a state of flux with every aspect of its creation, delivery and consumption undergoing profound redefinition... More>>

Keeping Out The Vote: Gordon Campbell On The US Elections

I’ll focus here on just two ways that dis-enfranchisement is currently occurring in the US: (a) by the rigging of the boundary lines for voter districts and (b) by demanding elaborate photo IDs before people are allowed to cast their vote. More>>

Ramzy Baroud: Being Black Palestinian - Solidarity As A Welcome Pathology

It should come as no surprise that the loudest international solidarity that accompanied the continued spate of the killing of Black Americans comes from Palestine; that books have already been written and published by Palestinians about the plight of their Black brethren. In fact, that solidarity is mutual. More>>


Get More From Scoop

Top Scoops
Search Scoop  
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news