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National wants to drive health system improvements

John Key MP
National Party Leader

26 September 2007

National wants to drive health system improvements

National Party Leader John Key says the party intends driving changes to boost the health sector's quality and productivity.

"We want the health system to be more responsive to patients and their needs," says Mr Key in releasing the 'Better, Sooner, More Convenient' health discussion paper today.

"That will, in part, be delivered by getting more value for the health dollar, but there are also other changes we should be making.

"I'm interested in what works. The paper's proposals aim to make changes to improve quality and productivity, and put patients at the centre of the system."

Features of the proposals include:

* A new partnership with health professionals, and clinical networks. National wants greater involvement by doctors, nurses and other health professionals in the public health system's planning and operation. Regional clinical networks involving clinicians, non-government organisations and patients would help in the planning, evaluation, and delivery of services.

* Moving more services closer to home. National proposes relocating some hospital services to Integrated Family Health Centres, which would provide a fuller range of services closer to patients. Centres would have doctors, nurses, specialists and allied health professionals, such as physiotherapists, podiatrists, and dieticians all in one location, in local communities.

* Smarter use of the private sector. National wants judicious use of public-private partnerships to boost elective surgery availability and cut waiting lists.

* Smarter use of GPs and primary care. National wants GPs with special interests to be able to provide a wider range of minor surgery at their clinics.

* Investigate bonding and student-loan write-offs to boost the health workforce.

"National is not proposing major structural reforms, which would divert attention away from the urgent task of delivering improved quality and performance," says Mr Key.

"In coming decades, the health system faces big challenges from an ageing population, new technologies, and services which will change how care and treatment is provided, and the spectre of more health professionals being lured overseas.

"To confront these challenges we need a system that is adaptive, innovative and forward-looking.

"The discussion document attests to the time and effort that has been put in by National's health team, led by Tony Ryall.

"This is not an exhaustive study of every issue in the health sector, but it does look at the main areas of poor performance. Earlier this month, National released another discussion document on aged care.

"Feedback from both of these documents will assist National with further development of a comprehensive health policy to take into the election campaign."

Ends

A copy of the paper is available on the internet at: national.org.nz

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