Gold-standard equity module now part of Cornerstone 

23 July 2020

A commitment to health equity ensures patients can access healthcare based on clinical need without being constrained by ethnicity, location, or finances. Improving equity in healthcare is a key commitment of the College’s, which is making progress towards that goal with the recent launch of an equity module as part of Cornerstone.

Michelle Te Kira is the practice manager at Waitakere Union in West Auckland and heartedly endorses the equity module saying, “Equity in our eyes is a no brainer; our community is high needs, the working poor, and the sickest of the sick so providing them with healthcare in a way that meets them where they’re at is how we run.” 

“It’s so great that there’s now an equity module so GP clinics can buy into it and work towards best practice. I network with a few practices and they’re all doing the right thing, they just don’t often know they are so this will help confirm their progress.”

"Providing good practice skills and training around equity, what that looks like, and how it improves health will help drive New Zealand towards healthier communities where people are getting what they need to live their healthiest lives,” Lynne Hayman, College Chief Executive

The College is proud to be the first organisation to develop an equity-focused, primary care Quality module. The module is a mandatory part of the Cornerstone programme so all practices wanting to achieve Cornerstone accreditation will need to complete it. 

The equity module demonstrates how practices can work to improve health outcomes for Māori and other underrepresented populations by being more targeted to individual and cultural needs that can make significant differences to patient’s care. It covers the broad range of general practice from workforce development, to guiding and enabling practice teams to apply an equity lens to their service delivery.

The module has been designed as relevant to whatever ethnic and cultural mix of patients individual practices serve.

College CEO Lynne Hayman (pictured left) was a champion of the project and says, “Providing good practice skills and training around equity, what that looks like, and how it improves health will help drive New Zealand towards healthier communities where people are getting what they need to live their healthiest lives.”

Evidence has demonstrated that the impact of hardship on health outcomes begins early and compounds over a person’s life, and by addressing that with formal education for practices the College can help improve the health of New Zealand’s most vulnerable communities.

Waitakere Union is a great example of what equity looks like. “We’re an amazing, unusual GP Practice staffed by a team that took many years to build but that lives, eats, and breathes equity,” says Practice Manager Michelle Te Kira. 

Since 2012 Waitakere Union, which has a primarily Māori and Pacifica clientele, has operated on walk-ins rather than set appointments and patients know if they’re in the clinic by 4pm they’ll be seen. Anyone under 18, over 65, or who are registered with the clinic get free appointments (even the parking is free) because, as Michelle says, “our team access all the funding we can for our patients and we’re experts at claiming every little cent so our community need not worry. We’ve also found that working this way means there’s no more missed appointments

“We’ve participated in many projects the DHB, PHO, and Ministry of Health offer if it benefits our high needs patients. And we work with other agencies like Auckland’s Community Alcohol and Drug Services to take away the cost barrier for our clients.

Back at the College, Lucia Bercinskas (pictured right) leads the Quality team who are responsible for developing and administering the module. She says, “We worked with some key people on this to make sure it was as useful as it could be. Those people included Te Akoranga a Māui, Te Ohu Rata ō Aotearoa Māori Medical Practitioners Association and The Māori/Indigenous Health Institute of the University of Otago, Christchurch.”

“Overall, the new programme is flexible, helpful and fit-for-purpose and will provide clear standards expected of a general practice as well as give them ways to work towards and attain best practice, she says.”

Buy into equity 

Practices wanting to find out more about Cornerstone and the equity module, or sign up to completed it can do that online at www.rnzcgp.org.nz/Quality