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Nats endorsement of DHB system welcomed

Hon David Cunliffe
Minister of Health

25 August 2008 Media Statement

Nats endorsement of DHB system welcomed

Minister of Health David Cunliffe said he was pleased that after criticising the DHB system for so many years National had now moved to defend the system.

Mr Cunliffe today dismissed National Party claims of District Health Board amalgamation, but thanked them for endorsing the system of local community representation brought in under this Government.

Mr Cunliffe said he had been open regarding calls for greater DHB collaboration, and stated that there would be no reduction in the number of Boards in the foreseeable future.

“I have made it clear on many, many occasions that I expect to see increased levels of national and regional collaboration– that does not equate to less DHBs.”

“There are 21 DHBs now and there will be 21 DHBs into the foreseeable future.”

“But we are going to insist on more collaboration.

“That means more use of regional clinical networks to underpin consistent service delivery in all areas.

“It means using every opportunity to gain the advantages of joint procurement to reduce any compressible unnecessary costs.

“It will mean more co-ordinated planning in areas like workforce development, information technology standards and tertiary health care delivery.”

Mr Cunliffe said it was interesting that while Mr Ryall had drawn attention to the fact he asked the question, he had conveniently left off the last few sentences where he had made it clear there would be no restructure in the health service.


David Cunliffe public statements confirming his commitment to greater collaboration in the health sector – while keeping 21 DHBs.

Statement to NZ media on July 3 2008

- Regional clinical networks make services stronger

“I look forward to seeing proposals about strengthening and building on current services. This is not about reducing or downgrading services.”
”I am on record as advocating an increased collaboration between DHBs since becoming Minister, as it has obvious benefits, anyone who views collaboration as something that could lead to down graded services, is completely out of touch with the Governments, the health sectors, and communities expectations.”
“My understanding is the DHBs involved are working together on how best to deliver specialist services and how to improve access to these services for the people of the lower North Island.”
Mr Cunliffe said there were 21 DHBs in this country all providing services designed to meet the needs of the their individual communities and there are no plans to change this.

Leading the health sector – Speech to Ministry of Health 6 May, 2008
I have come to the view that greater co-ordination throughout the entire system is essential to long term sustainability. As services are becoming more complex and interdependent, planning at a district level will not be sufficient on its own to meet the medium to long-term needs of the system. The continued success of the DHB system requires action across the sector: amongst DHBs themselves, providers, the Ministry of Health and myself.

There are some excellent recent examples of partnership arrangements being developed, involving arrangements such as joint purchasing and regional clinical networks. I strongly encourage these collaborations to continue, especially where they enable better operational effectiveness through increased clinician input.

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