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Health Professionals Can Have Say On Quality

Health Minister Annette King says health professionals now have a very timely opportunity to influence ways of ensuring they and their colleagues continue to offer safe and high-quality health care.

"We can invest millions of dollars in state-of-the-art technology and facilities and so on. And that is what we have tended to do in New Zealand. But at the end of the day, to ensure the quality of health care, we need to ensure our health professionals are competent and continue to be so.

"The professions, the public and the Government all acknowledge that it's no longer enough for someone to emerge from a training course, hang up their shingle and leave it at that."

Mrs King was speaking today at the launch of the Health Professionals' Competency Assurance Bill discussion paper, which looks at options for providing better public health and safety protection.

The proposed new bill will replace 11 occupational regulation statutes, many of which are out of date, with a new framework that is designed to empower registration bodies to ensure practitioners maintain their competence. Copies have been circulated to health sector and consumer groups for comment.

Mrs King said the new bill would be a key component in developing a quality health care system. "We need to remember, however, that the health system is complex and multi-faceted, and so are issues of quality.

"No single initiative will ensure quality, but this Bill, along with a number of other quality initiatives, should ensure that we start providing better and safer health services in New Zealand.

"There is a widespread perception of a series of failures in health care in New Zealand. That perception ignores the reality that most of our health professionals and providers deliver high-quality care. The health sector is so complex that something can always go wrong, but we want to create a perception that when something does go wrong, it is the exception, not the rule."

For more information, contact John Harvey (04) 471 9305. A full copy of the discussion document is available on the Ministry of Health website www.moh.govt.nz

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