Reckless health restructure removes local voice

Replacing all District Health Boards across the country will see our regions and smaller communities lose their voice and their autonomy, National’s Health spokesperson Dr Shane Reti says.

“Our regions know what works for them when it comes to keeping their communities healthy, and that isn’t always having Wellington dictate terms.

“Removing DHBs is similar to when Regional Health Authorities were centralised, it didn’t work then and it won’t work now.

“The Government should be looking to maintain regional identities and exploring the consolidation of some functions across DHBs, like asset management, not getting rid of them entirely.

“We have no idea how much this plan will cost, how long it will take to implement, or how disruptive this process is going to be.

“The Labour Government’s track record of delivery is poor, and it’s yet to prove it can implement large projects, such as this one.

“Health New Zealand will likely end up as just another bureaucracy that governments will have to fund, instead of investing the money where it’s needed most.

“National believes whoever has the greatest needs should receive the appropriate resources. We know Māori have the greatest inequity across health, and therefore greater needs across many health metrics.

“But we do not support a separate Māori Health Authority as it runs the risk of a fragmented two-tier system. On one hand Health Minister Andrew Little claims he’s trying to create a single, harmonious, joined-up health system and on the other he’s creating a two-tiered funding system based on race.

“This radical restructure couldn’t have come at a worse time. New Zealand is undergoing three critical mass vaccination programmes, including our Covid-19 vaccine roll out. What the health sector needs right now is certainty and stability.

“The Government needs to own its track record in health. In the past four years every single National Health Target is worse than when National was in Government. Labour has spent money but hasn’t seen the outcomes.

“This is just another example of this Government’s centralise and control ideology. We’ve seen it with the restructure of polytechnics, we’re seeing it with the three waters restructure, and now the Government has set its sights on restructuring our health sector.

“National’s position is clear, in Government we will retain the community and local voice through a DHB framework, and we will repeal a separate Māori Health Authority and work towards a better single integrated health system.”