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Democrats See Hokianga Health System As A Model

Thursday, 16 September 2004

Democrats See Hokianga Health System As A Model For New Zealand

As public health sinks deeper in a politically created quagmire, with thousands being dumped from waiting lists and a group of health professionals in Christchurch trying to set up a charity based hospital, Northland's down-to-earth Hokianga health system remains a neglected model of how rural health services should be dragged out of the swamp.

"The Hokianga is remarkable for many reasons" Democrats Social Issues Researcher, David Tranter, said today. "Not least of which is that last century Doctor Smith, single-handedly, established a basic health system where none had previously existed. He achieved this in remote area with much greater difficulties of fewer roads and poorer communications than current rural health bureaucrats keep bleating about as making their lives difficult".

The spirit of Doctor Smith's initiative has endured through all the upheavals and restructuring of the past 20 years which continues within the public health system today.

"Instead of simply operating as well paid rubber stamps to Government policy and operating out of gold-plated corporate offices, the Hokianga's system is overseen by a committee of genuine community representatives alongside a sensible, minimal management team. As a result they provide free health services including free dentistry to every resident - and it does so at LESS cost per head of population than elsewhere in New Zealand" continued Mr. Tranter. "The Hokianga system should be a model for all rural New Zealand and indeed, its application of common sense should be an inspiration for all public health management".

The Democratic Party holds that such a model being blatantly ignored by those who seem to place greater priority on their career advancement than providing health services, is an insult to the public and the health professionals throughout New Zealand who are forced to contend with the ever-increasing erosion of their ability to deliver adequate services for patients in a timely manner.

"The Democrats applaud the Hokianga community and the health professionals and management who have shown what can be achieved when health is managed as a public service and not as an exercise in political/corporate power games" concluded Mr Tranter. "The principles of the Hokianga model are being incorporated in Democrat health policy".


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