The Government’s reform of the health system took a big step forward today with the unveiling of the system that will be used to hold it accountable and ensure it delivers more equitable healthcare for all New Zealanders.
Health Minister Andrew Little has already announced the 20 district health boards will be disestablished and replaced with a new national system with a a greater focus on primary healthcare, bring an end to the postcode lottery system of health services, and cutting bureaucracy so healthcare workers can focus on patients.
Today, Andrew Little launched the Health System Indicators framework that complement the reforms.
“The indicators are a new way of thinking. They are not about incentivising with funding or pointing the finger if targets are not met – they are neither a carrot nor a stick,” Andrew Little said.
“They are a measure of how well our health system is functioning across the country, and an opportunity to then create local solutions to address local health needs.
“This framework will help the sector focus on the areas that most need to improve – especially for Māori and Pacific peoples.
“The indicators are based on the Government’s six priorities for health – improving child wellbeing, improving mental wellbeing, improving wellbeing through preventative measures, creating a strong and equitable public health system, better primary healthcare and a financially sustainable health system.
“Twelve indicators have been developed and progress in meeting them will be publicly reported on every three months.
“When the indicators show there is a problem, health services will work with local communities to come up with effective ways to fix it.”
The indicators replace the outdated and ineffective National Health Targets regime.
“The targets have been in place since 2007 and there’s plenty of evidence – from New Zealand and other countries – that they don’t work,” Andrew Little said.
“They are arbitrary and don’t reflect the real priorities of the health system.
“Even worse, they led to what can only be described as perverse outcomes, with district health boards seeking to meet, such as doing lots of small procedures instead fewer major ones so they could claim more people were being treated.”