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Bold Response To Tackle Stressed Health System

The Association of Salaried Medical Specialists Toi Mata Hauora says the Government has chosen a bold path of health reform, but increased health funding and investment must sit alongside.

The Health Minister Andrew Little has announced a generational shakeup of the health system, which goes much further that the recommendations of the Health and Disability System Review.

ASMS applauds the Government’s decision to establish a Māori Health Authority with full commissioning rights, as a new pathway to deliver health equity for Māori and improve health outcomes for all.

ASMS Executive Director Sarah Dalton admits the scale of the changes announced, such as the disestablishment of all 20 DHBs and the creation of such a large, centralised Health New Zealand agency, is surprising.

“It represents a nationalised approach to the way we run our hospitals and has the potential to simplify and de-clutter the system for health workers and patients.

“It also needs to provide much-needed opportunities for direct input and decision-making by senior clinicians,” she says.

In announcing the reforms, the Health Minister admitted that frontline health care is understaffed.

“You can change structures all you like but at the end of the day our health system needs to be all about patient care — and that requires ongoing investment and the right resources in the right places,” says Sarah Dalton.

“Services such as cancer and mental health, where patients are facing long delays for treatment in many parts of the country, won’t improve without national workforce planning and measures to better recruit and retain specialists and other health staff”.

ASMS is waiting to see more detail on health funding and whether the government will increase investment in health overall.

“We want a public health system that we can rely on. That means everyone having rapid access to care, irrespective of where they live or what they earn.

ASMS also wants to remind the Government that ongoing engagement and consultation with health unions will be critical to the success of these reforms.

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