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Lack Of Primary Care Representation On Health NZ Board Not Acceptable, Says GP College

The Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners welcomes the appointment of Distinguished College Fellow Professor Sue Crengle onto the Māori Health Authority Board.

Professor Crengle was an invaluable Board member for the College from 2014 to 2020, and is a member of Te Rōpū Whakakaupapa Urutā, the National Māori Pandemic Group. Her extensive work in general practice, population health and academia will provide grass roots as well as strategic wisdom to the Māori Health Authority. This range of skills will be essential for driving change and improving health outcomes.

The transition units states that, "The Māori Health Authority will work alongside Health New Zealand with a joint role in developing system plans, commissioning for primary and community services, and will co-commission Kaupapa Māori services. The Māori Health Authority will also work alongside the Ministry of Health in developing strategies and policies that work for Māori."

However, The Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners is surprised to see that there is not similar primary and community-based wisdom on the Health NZ Board.

College President, Dr Samantha Murton says, "When the drivers for this reform are to improve health outcomes, integrate the health service and reduce the postcode lottery of health care, one would think that the place where most care is delivered would have some representation on the Board.

"Any discussions involving the health and wellbeing of New Zealanders should without a doubt include the group who treat the majority of New Zealanders.

"The Minister has said this new entity promises to fix the health system, so it works for everyone no matter who they are or where they live, and that’s what we all want. But if there is no primary care experience, voice or wisdom at the table, how can we be sure that the reform will head in a primary and community direction?" says Dr Murton.

The general practice workforce services around 94 percent of New Zealand’s population and are the first point of contact for most healthcare concerns, conducting around 14 million consultations per year. We are the most visible and personal service to the whole of the New Zealand population but we have struggled to be visible to the Health service as a whole.

"The very nature of our role as GPs is to improve health outcomes and reduce inequities within our communities.

"The vital role that the GP workforce continues to play in the COVID-19 pandemic is an example of our expertise and essential role in service delivery," says Dr Murton.

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