Healthcare should prioritise need, not race

The Government’s proposed Māori Health Authority is simply not about generating better health outcomes for Māori, Deputy Leader of the Opposition Dr Shane Reti says.

“In Question Time, the Prime Minister and the Minister of Health both rejected the need for a Pasifika Health Authority despite the government’s own documents showing health disparities experienced by Pasifika people are comparable to those experienced by Māori.

“It can be reasonably concluded therefore, that their interpretation of Treaty obligations are what is driving the two-system plan.

“Reasonable people can interpret the Treaty in different ways. If Labour is interpreting the Treaty to mean we have an obligation to co-governance of core services like health, or as documents show, a veto for the Māori Health Authority, this is a significant departure from where we’ve been in the past and something that needs open and mature public discussion.

“The risk we see, is that if today the Treaty means we need a separate health system, tomorrow it could mean we need a separate justice system just as He Puapua is describing.

“The language for health reforms needs to be the language of improved health outcomes and that starts with a principled “needs” based approach.

“Speaking as a medical professional, it is worrying that the Minister wouldn’t give a clear answer in the house around GP consultations under these reforms, where one part of a consultation could be for the Māori Health Authority and another part for Health NZ.

“GPs simply want to do the best job for patients with the greatest need without a huge paperwork burden.”