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Report To Assist The Health Sector To Learn From The Experiences Of The COVID-19 Pandemic

A new report looking at the effects of COVID-19 on the quality of Aotearoa New Zealand’s health system has been released today by the Health Quality & Safety Commission (the Commission).

A window on quality 2021: COVID-19 and impacts on our broader health system - Part 1: March 2020 to August 2021 looks at the effects of Aotearoa New Zealand’s response on selected aspects of the functioning of our health system during the 2020 lockdown and after to help the health sector learn from it and shape resilient system responses in the future.

Commission director of health quality intelligence Richard Hamblin says, ‘This report looks at a selection of areas where data is available and robust. A further report next year will examine the effects of the Delta variant on other services.

This report focuses on some key themes including the distraction from our system’s business-as-usual work in primary care and the impacts of this on prevention and screening. It also addresses differences in the experiences of primary health care among different population groups, emergency department delays, deferral of scheduled care and elective procedures and delivery of cancer care.’

He says while the COVID-19 global pandemic has dealt a series of radical shocks to our communities and to our health system, it won’t be the last shock. This report examines some key parts of our health system to understand both what happened and what we can learn to address health inequity, improve health and respond more resiliently to future shocks to our system.

‘The report is also brought to life with a number of first-hand accounts from consumers with lessons of resilient success. These stories may guide the way we work in future, helping us to navigate the challenges and opportunities ahead and create the high-quality care we all want.’

The report makes half a dozen recommendations, mostly for district health boards and Health New Zealand to address issues of equity, clinical governance and data and insights.

‘The COVID-19 pandemic presents an opportunity to think about what a future health system in Aotearoa New Zealand can look like. We cannot return to "normal". We need a system that is underpinned by a whole-of-government approach to health, is pro-equity and meets the Crown’s obligations of Te Tiriti,’ says Mr Hamblin.

‘The New Zealand Health and Disability System Review and current ongoing system restructure are a chance to build in a pro-equity, pro-resilience approach to our health care with all we have recently learned in mind.’

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