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Health Services In A Quality Environment

Napier Health Centre Opening
Healthcare Hawkes Bay

Wednesday, April 26, 2000

Health Services In A Quality Environment


SPEECH BY THE HON. ANNETTE KING MINISTER FOR HEALTH


Thank you very much for inviting me here today to open the Napier Health Centre, and for the welcome I have received.

It is, contrary to what might some expect, actually a considerable pleasure to me to be opening this health centre.

As most of you will be aware, I have been critical of the way this health centre was financed. I have never been critical of the need to provide health services in a quality environment for the people of Napier.

I do remain critical of the way the previous Government tied Healthcare Hawkes Bay's hands in terms of financing the centre, but this criticism should in no way reflect on Healthcare Hawkes Bay itself.

The HHS has done a fine job in terms of providing services across the Hawke's Bay region. It has been no easy task, but there have been at least three outstanding results of their labours.

Firstly, there has been the development of the excellent regional hospital at Hastings, with facilities among the best in the country.

Secondly, there has been the recent opening of the purpose-built Central Hawke's Bay Health Centre at Waipukurau.

And today, of course, marks the fruition of yet another important stage in delivering top-class health care to Hawke's Bay people.

As I said at the beginning, I remain disappointed that the previous Government refused to make Crown money available to build the centre, or to allow flexible financing arrangements. The result of that decision is that this centre will cost about $1 million a year to lease, and some of that money would have been far better directed into actual health provision.

That's history now, of course, but I believe it is an indictment of the previous Government's competitive model approach to health. It is too late to help Healthcare Hawkes Bay out, but as Minister of Health I can assure you I will be keeping a close watch on financing options for future health services.

Enough of the past. We are here to celebrate the present and the future, and there is indeed much to celebrate in this superb centre.

It is essential this centre is used to the benefit of the local community, and I have no doubt that will be the case.

This centre is admirably situated to make a strong contribution to health care in Hawke's Bay. I am particularly pleased it is situated so close to the CBD, and that it will be sharing services with local GPs and other health providers. The more health providers who come under this one roof, the better the centre will be for the health of the people of Napier. I want to encourage a wide range of services provided locally for the people of Napier.

The concept of the Napier Health Centre is based on the welcome trend to more community-orientated care. That is a trend I will be striving to develop.

Central to the facility is the 24-hour urgent medical centre which is a joint venture between City Medical (a collective made up of the majority of local GPs) and Healthcare Hawkes Bay. Along with the leasing of space to physiotherapists, this is part of the integrated services approach to service delivery. That is another important development I am determined to encourage around the country.

Both this health centre and the centre at Waipukurau are well placed to take services delivery and health care forward under the new approach of the Government and of Healthcare Hawkes Bay.

I now just want to talk a little about the Government's new approach to providing a public health system in New Zealand that people can trust and of which they can be proud once again.

I have made several announcements already, of course, about the Government's planned structural changes in health, particularly the absorption of the Health Funding Authority into the Ministry of Health, and the creation of elected District Health Boards.

The structural changes are not the most important changes, however. The most important change is in terms of public health philosophy. The emphasis is changing from a competitive approach to one designed to improve the health of New Zealanders wherever they live, and to tackle the health disparities that exist in so many parts of the country.

Central to these plans is the development of the New Zealand Health Strategy, which I will be releasing soon for consultation.

I have no doubt that the people who can provide the most help in developing the NZ Health Strategy are those who know the public health system best, the people who actually work in the sector.

I am looking to the creativity, knowledge and experience of people, like the health professionals in this region, to help create a public health system New Zealanders can trust and have pride in.

Primary health will be central to that plan, as will mental health and disability support strategies. The plan will also focus on personal and population health services.

The New Zealand Health Strategy will provide a comprehensive framwork to deal with New Zealand's health problems, covering all aspects relating to health, including housing, social services, education and poverty. Its overall priority is to raise the health status of all New Zealanders, to address health disparities, and to cut waiting times for elective surgery.

It will be a living document flexible enough to adapt to health sector needs and demands.

What I want you to do is to share with me your proposals for the most practical ways to apply that philosophy. That is how together we can make the strategy live up to its powerful potential.

Alongside the New Zealand Health Strategy we want a health system that truly promotes population health and preventive measures - so that real and consistent health gains can occur.

We want a framework that will allow the new District Health Boards flexibility to provide and/or fund services for their communities.

The health boards will not be companies and will have a majority of elected members. Some members will be appointed by me as the Minister of Health. The appointed members will reflect the make-up of the community they serve.

The DHBs will provide a full range of services for their communities, and the appropriate use of the private sector to cover services not within the public system will continue. The provision of primary and community-based care will continue to occur mostly through private/non-government owned providers, which will be funded by the DHBs.

The sector changes put forward by the Government aim to raise the health and independence of all New Zealanders, while reducing inequalities, meeting the needs of local communities and ensuring more effective use of our health care resources. There will also be increased community decision-making on health.

We are now moving on to the detailed plans and structures to achieve the changes. The Primary Health Care document released at the end of last month demonstrates the Government’s commitment to creating a quality health care system that meets the needs of all New Zealanders. The document outlines the importance of providing appropriate and accessible services.

The model that is proposed in the document is of primary care organisations looking after the primary care needs of a defined population. Organisations will involve different health practitioners and will be already linked to local communities.

I have signalled the Government’s intention to move away from the competitive models of health care provision in the past and rebuild the system along non-commercial lines, encouraging both a collaborative and accountable culture.

Aspects of the system that have proved effective will not be touched, but we do believe that some further adjustments are necessary if we are to put in place a system that will enable us to reach our main goal of improving the health of New Zealanders

Both the Napier and Waipukurau centres build on the best technological advances and extensive research in New Zealand and overseas around models of health care services that follow the trend towards more community orientated care.

The Government wants to encourage local initiatives to meet local needs. It is vital that services are developed in partnership with providers and consumers and that innovation is supported where there is good evidence of positive outcomes.

It is the intention of this Government to ensure that ideas are built around local history, local relationships, and local needs. Innovation, the sort of innovation this centre represents, will help to fulfil this Government’s plans.

While I am here, I also want to say congratulations to Healthcare Hawkes Bay for its achievement in obtaining the three-year Accreditation from Quality Health New Zealand. I am sure that the commitment and work of management and clinical staff in other Healthcare Hawkes Bay facilities will continue to be of a high standard and that the new service here will achieve the same high standards in a short time space of time as well.

In conclusion, I would like to say thank you all for your hard work in achieving the completion of this new service for Napier. There have been some tears over this centre in the past, but the launch of an innovative new health service is always a happy occasion. I am very happy to share this occasion with you.

ENDS

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