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News Worthy - 25 July 2008

News Worthy
25 July 2008 - No. 256

The health of the health system

Despite a doubling of the health budget, New Zealanders have to be sicker to get elective surgery and, on a population basis, fewer people are getting surgery than eight years ago.

And this is a real challenge. Research by Victoria University shows surgical output needs to grow by around 51% from 2001 to 2026 just to deliver the inadequate current levels of elective surgery, and grow by 77% to address real elective surgery need.

All around the country patients are waiting longer for care, including waiting longer to see their local GP.

Clearly primary care should be a major part of any solution with appropriate funding

More of the diagnostic and outpatient services currently carried out in hospitals should be provided in primary care. Patients' access to specialist diagnostics like CTs, ultrasounds and colonoscopies should be facilitated. Community-based cardiology could provide much earlier access to ECHOs and other cardiology diagnostics. Direct referral to community-based services will improve patient access.

GPs and hospital specialists could provide specialist assessments in the community, in primary care. There could be greater access to more minor surgery by specially trained GPs.

Unlike Britain, general practice in New Zealand has evolved over the past 15 years to be strongly networked, with high levels of clinical competence and a wide range of innovative services.

There is an opportunity to build on these advances in this country with a multi-disciplinary Integrated Family Health Centres bringing together a variety of health services in a convenient location will provide patients with a wider range of health services, faster.

Great News on Mutual Recognition of Tax Credits

Whilst not as long standing as the dispute between Australia and New Zealand on the export of New Zealand apples to Australia, (this dispute goes back 80 years) the non recognition of imputation and franking credits goes back 20 years.

With a large part of our economy owned by Australians, the lack of progress on tax credits has meant profits made here have increasingly had the tax paid on them going to Australia.

The issue ultimately determines where businesses as well as shareholders pay their tax. For businesses that has increasingly been in Australia rather than New Zealand.

Small investors have often had to pay tax on their dividends earned in Australia twice, over there as well as here.

If we are to truly have a single economic market between Australia and New Zealand the issue should be resolved without further delay.

It is an unusual feature of the closer economic relationship between Australia and New Zealand that it contains no dispute resolution solutions and relies on the good will of the two governments.

Political Quote of the Week

“Three outstanding qualities make for success; judgment, industry, health. And the greatest of these is judgment.” William Maxwell Aitken - Canadian-British business tycoon, politician, and writer.


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