Health and Disability Review ‘ambitious and appropriate’

16 June 2020

The College has called the final report of The Health and Disability System Review ‘progressive and promising’, saying this is a once in a generation opportunity for change and improvement to New Zealand’s health system.

New Zealand has a good health system and what was delivered outlines the opportunity for that to be better. The College’s President, Dr Samantha Murton (pictured left) said, "we were particularly heartened to see the recommendations directed at practical change to address inequities.

"Current health outcomes for Māori have proved that the current system doesn’t work; we need a circuit-breaker, a bold approach, and so we were encouraged to see the recommendation for a dedicated a Māori Health Authority."

The College’s message has long been that more needs to be done to remove inequity in the health system and the final Health and Disability System Review report provides optimism that there is scope to achieve that.

"I’m pleased to see equity and accessibility recommended and we were very clear in our original submission on this review that health equity has to be a top priority, as does accessibility for rural communities" said Dr Murton.

College Medical Director Dr Bryan Betty pictured right said, "Good integration between community health services is critically important, especially for vulnerable and rural communities and seeing a recommendation to have the local community involved in the design of their own local health services is very exciting."

In New Zealand, 90 percent of people’s healthcare happens in the community. GPs and rural hospital doctors work on the frontline of healthcare and are keenly aware of where the system breaks down.

Dr Betty says, "Everything is reasonable and good in theory, but I’m interested to see how these measures will roll out to the front line where our doctors are consistently delivering high-quality community medical care.

The College recognises that a lot of work has gone into this and we will need to comb out the finer details, but on the face on it we are pleased to see recognition of the value and contribution of the Tier 1 primary and community medicine, including ring-fencing DHB funding for this sector.

However, we are also cautious about how this will work. The changes proposed to PHOs are interesting, but we are very cautious about how this will work in practice and are wary of losing the clinical community medicine representation at the DHB level.