The future of health

New Zealand has a high-quality publicly funded health system and a highly skilled, dedicated and professional health workforce. But we know there are opportunities to make improvements. We need to build a future health system that will perform better for all of us.

The health system reform

Transforming the health system will create a more equitable, accessible, cohesive and people-centred system that will improve the health and wellbeing of all New Zealanders.

  • People-centred: a system that brings together the voice of all communities
  • Equitable: a system that focuses on working in partnership with Māori and honouring Te Tiriti o Waitangi
  • Accessible: a system that offers more equitable, convenient and integrated access to services for all New Zealanders
  • Cohesive: a national health system that delivers locally, supported by co-ordinated planning and oversight

Read more about the reforms

Hon Andrew Little

E ngā Matāwaka huri noa tena tatou katoa.

Earlier this year we announced the reform of the health and disability sector.

The reforms are all about fixing our public health system so it works for everyone.

At the centre of the changes we’re making is the establishment of two new organisations – Health New Zealand which will see our 20 DHBs become one organisation, and the Māori Health Authority which will provide new leadership on hauora Māori.

What we want is a health system where everyone has access to consistent, high-quality health services when and where they need it - no matter who they are or where they live.

Our goal is to transform our health system to help all New Zealanders live longer, in good health with the best possible quality of life.

There’s been a lot of interest in the reforms so we wanted to take the opportunity now, to give an update on the progress we’ve made.

Hon Peeni Henare

But before that we’d like to acknowledge the additional challenges, more recently with the resurgence of COVID19 in the community – and this has been especially difficult for those in Tāmaki Makaurau.

We want to acknowledge and thank the health workforce at the forefront of the response for their amazing work to get the COVID resurgence under control – knowing the demands and added pressure this has put on the sector who continue to deliver routine care while balancing many immediate priorities.

We know this hasn’t been easy. So, a big thank you for keeping Aotearoa New Zealand safe.

While the COVID response has been the government’s top priority, we know the health reforms are important too so we’ve continued this important mahi.

Hon Andrew Little

We’ve heard the response to the planned reforms has been pretty positive, and that there is a clear need for change. 

We’ve been engaging with the sector and that’s been a great opportunity to discuss with all sorts of stakeholders the shape of the reforms, how the future system will work and how everyone can contribute to making it a success.

This is a real opportunity to seriously fix some of the shortcomings in the current system – in particular, the long-standing equity issues.

We’re making good progress – we’ve announced the interim new organisations – Health New Zealand and the Māori Health Authority – and have appointed boards to both entities.

The next step will be to pass the legislation, and come the first of July 2022 we expect the new system to be up and running.

Minister Henare and I have been working with the Transition Unit to pull all this together and very soon there will be a series of information sessions with everybody working in the health sector.

Depending on alert levels, some sessions will be delivered either in person or online between October and the end of the year.

That’s a chance to get people more detailed information about what’s happening and to get an idea what the main milestones and timeframes will be between now and July.

The Transition Unit will also run workshops to seek feedback on key aspects of the reform, such as the development of the interim NZ Health Plan.

We know there is a lot of interest in the work to establish ‘locality networks’ because this will play a big role in how we commission primary and community healthcare services in the future so that we bring services closer to home. 

We got some money earlier this year in the budget to trial locality prototypes over the next few months. We need to see what it takes to set up the processes so there is genuine local input from health providers and community representatives into what local health needs are.

Hon Peeni Henare

Engagement with Māori has been absolutely crucial.

Our Hauora Māori team has run a series of hui across the motu supported by the steering group led by Tā Mason Durie to hear the voices of our people.

With the Maori health leadership we will explore the future role and functions of the Iwi Māori Partnership Boards.

Our expectation is that these boards will ensure locality plans are better designed to improve Maori health outcomes for whānau.

There will be more engagements kanohi ki te kanohi to ensure the voice of Maori is heard in the new health legislation.

Hon Andrew Little

We are also working on the health charter – this is about setting expectations and values for the way we want the health system to operate and for everybody in it to know what to expect when it comes to the way they work.

Those values will support the workforce to do its best, which means they’re doing the best for patients.

We’re really excited for what the future holds and the huge opportunities ahead to make sure our health system is sustainable for future generations.

So we encourage you to take the opportunity to engage in the reforms.

There’s a lot of work going on and we know there’s more to do.

We look forward to providing more updates in the future.

No reira tena tatou katoa.

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