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Hodgson: Health and Disability Sector NGO

Hon Pete Hodgson

Health and Disability Sector NGO - Ministry of Health Forum

Thank you all for welcoming me to the Ninth Health and Disability Sector NGO - Ministry of Health Forum.

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I am pleased to be here in Auckland. It is appropriate that these Forums are sometimes held outside the capital. The Forum aims to be an inclusive event and should not be seen as 'just' another Wellington based committee.

The theme of the forum is 'NGOs and Contracting in Today's Health and Disability Environment'. I know many NGOs have serious concerns in this area, and I acknowledge these are not easy to resolve. While a forum such as this cannot provide all the solutions, I hope you see it as I do - a positive step along the way.

I am particularly pleased to see here today, both in the audience and on the agenda, representatives of District Health Boards and the Ministry of Health. Through conversations between funders and providers positive progress can be made.

While I am relatively new to the health sector, you are not. I acknowledge the many years of experience in this room. I am fortunate to have inherited 'the watch' during a time of comparative structural stability and with the sector in relatively good health.

As I have told my colleagues in the House, a mark of 'five and a half' for the sector is good way of thinking about things. We are doing well, but we must continually strive to do better. We are continuously aspirational in health.

The sector has its pressure points and I suspect that some of you from NGO service providers are experiencing some of those pressures now.

Areas that I have been alerted to include: · NGO-PHO relationships · prices paid for NGO services · workforce issues (the theme of last September's Forum) · contracting issues (which you are here to discuss today) · consultation · lobbying and advocacy · the role of NGOs in the the Primary Health Care Strategy.

You could view this as a list of problems or, as issues that have been identified and need greater work. It is often not possible to find solutions that please everybody. That is the reality. Which is why at a Forum such as this, we should try to focus on the health of patients and on the efficiency and quality of the health system itself, rather than on the interests of the individual organisations within it.

I am pleased that the NGO Working Group is now meeting regularly with the Ministry of Health around the implementation of the Primary Health Care Strategy. Engagement like this is a great way forward and I am pleased to see that the Ministry is improving their consideration of NGO service delivery.

I am grateful to the NGO Working Group for the information I have received about pressure points affecting the sector. Without input from organisations across New Zealand, the NGO Working Group would have little news to report to me - so thank you to you all. Resources are scarce and there are many competing reporting and other paperwork tasks that take you away from your core activities.

However, I want to focus on another issue - concern about repercussions. This is particularly relevant considering the contracting theme of this Forum. If your organisation has contracting issues that can usefully be aired here today, I encourage you to do so. Specific examples are often helpful in finding solutions and providing insight to others.

Now, I am happy to take questions from the floor.

ENDS

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