April 21, 2021
Bold health plan gets tick from Māori
Bold and sweeping is how a senior Māori doctor is describing changes to the health system.
Health Minister Andrew Little today unveiled the Government’s response to the Health and Disability Services Report, including replacing district health boards with a national body, Health NZ, scrapping the 30 primary health organisations, and setting up a Māori Health Authority to sit alongside Health NZ.
Dr Rawiri Jansen says the Government has responded to a crescendo of concern about health inequities and growing demands from Māori that the health system respond to their needs.
He says the Māori Health Authority will be established by legislation, so it’s not just a policy that can be turned off by the next government.
"The legislation is then going to describe some of the powers and Mr Little has said it will have power to monitor other crown agencies. I think that's important. They have also made it clear the Māori Health Authority will have commissioning powers. That's important. I guess the bit I'm waiting on – what’s the pūtea to support that ambition," Dr Jansen says.
The decision to create a Māori Health Authority with the power to commission and fund services has been applauded by Māori health groups and iwi.
Te Arataura chair Linda Te Aho says the current health system is broken, and Waikato-Tainui looks forward to engaging with Associate Heath Minister Peeni Henare on the shape of the new authority.
Whānau Ora commissioning agency Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu says the Government should look to Whānau Ora as a model for the new authority.
Chief executive Helen Leahy says for too long whānau have experienced differential treatment, follow up, referrals and outcomes under the current health arrangements.
Whānau ora navigators have helped many whānau to overcome obstacles thrown up by the health bureaucracy, and what they have learned can be applied to the new authority.
The Council of Trade Unions says a dedicated Māori health authority is long overdue.
CTU President Richard Wagstaff says all New Zealanders deserve a health system which is fair and equitable, and that regardless of where in the country you live you can get the health care you need.
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