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Gareth Morgan calls for fair health rationing

Media Release
For Immediate Release
7 November 2009

Gareth Morgan calls for fair health rationing

New Zealand's health system is a political football, held together only by the high quality of our nurses and doctors, according to a new book from Dr Gareth Morgan being launched tomorrow.

Health Cheque is the result of six months spent researching New Zealand’s health system and is based on over 40 interviews with doctors, nurses and health providers as well as a comprehensive literature review . The study finds that our health system punches above its weight given the budget it’s given, but substantial deficiencies persist.

“I find it offensive that the system won't vaccinate Porirua toddlers but is happy to give a coronary bypass to a 90 year old Remuera spinster,” said Dr Morgan.

“Our current system definitely favours the squeaky wheels, those who know the system and how to push the right buttons to get desired treatment.”

“We need to get serious about prioritisation to correct the large number of inequities and make the limited budget work fairly. This is likely to result in heavy investment in prevention and early intervention, particularly for the young, Maori and Pacific Islanders, and those on lower incomes. We can get four times the value for money there than we can keeping so many hospitals on half rations.”

“We need to do simple treatments well, rather than expecting every new-fangled treatment via the public health system.”

Morgan is inviting health workers and the public to sign up to an online prescription for change. The prescription includes 14 tenets that he believes New Zealand needs to embrace to effect change. The tenets include controversial proposals including that, to avoid becoming a nursery state, we may need to be more of a nanny state – incentivising people to take better care of themselves before they step up for “free” health treatment.

Dr Morgan is also holding a competition to find New Zealand’s hardest working nurse where people can tell stories of their caregivers or colleagues. The winner receives $10,000 to donate to a health cause of their choice. To nominate go to


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