Indicators aren’t targets Minister Little

It’s taken four years for Health Minister Andrew Little to recognise there needs to be some measuring and reporting on the performance of the health system, but indicators aren’t targets and will do little to improve health outcomes, National’s Health spokesperson Dr Shane Reti says.

“Holding DHBs accountable for their performance is one of the core responsibilities of the Minister of Health. Unfortunately, this Labour Government has been derelict in this duty, and it has come at the expense of Kiwis’ health.

“The last National Government made smart use of DHB performance data, and introduced targets for key public health outcomes to ensure accountability was embedded right across our health system.

“National handed Labour a health system that had improved significantly over the previous decade, with shorter stays in emergency departments, faster treatment for cancer patients, greater access to services, and improving health outcomes for New Zealand.

“One of Labour’s first moves after taking office was to cancel these National Health Targets, claiming that reporting on performance and accountability was somehow unfair.

“Unsurprisingly, four years later every single one of these critical public health measures has gotten worse.

“Today’s announcement that after four years of failing to deliver on health, Government is finally introducing indicators to measure our health system isn’t good enough. Targets are there to be met and they help improve health outcomes for Kiwis. Indicators don’t force our DHBs to do better for New Zealanders.

“It also comes less than 24 hours after Andrew Little was forced to admit in Parliament that the number of patients waiting longer than the required four month maximum for treatment in our hospitals has ballooned to nearly 30,000, up from around 2000 in 2017.

“Andrew Little tried to blame this on Covid-19 but figures released to National show the wait list had already blown out in 2019, well before the pandemic hit.

“Wait list blow outs and delays in accessing health are a direct result of this Government’s failure to do its job and hold DHBs accountable for their performance.

“Labour has spent four years running down our health system, and now are trying to use its declining performance as an excuse for a radical restructure that will likely just make things worse.

“If it had just stuck with the proven, data-driven approach National had pioneered in Government, New Zealanders today would have a better health system and better health outcomes.”