Centralisation is prescribed for our health system – but funding is an issue and see what has happened in transport and education

Health  Minister  Andrew  Little  says   the reforms the  government has  announced this week will  mean for the  first time  New Zealand will  have  “a  truly national  health  system”.

The  new  system  will consist  of  a  national  health  organisation,  a  Maori health authority,  and a  new  public  health authority to  centralise  public  health  work. The  Ministry of  Health  will remain  in  over-arching  control.

It  is  a  major  structural  reform, going even  further  than the  raft of initiatives proposed in the Heather Simpson  report.

So  will  Andrew  Little  be  top of  the  pops, the  only  minister (so far) in the  Ardern  government to deliver  a  radical new policy  to  reform  a  key  government  service?

Initial  reactions  seemed  highly  in favour.  The  Dominion-Post’s headline ran “Overhaul of  DHBs Welcomed”.  The NZ  Herald  was  even  more  vivid  in  its  imagery:  “The  faces  of  failure”, it  shouted, “Health overhaul  to end ‘postcode lottery’  comes too  late  for  these  loved ones”.

The  message  was  clear:  good  riddance  to  the  district health boards (generally known as DHBs). Continue reading “Centralisation is prescribed for our health system – but funding is an issue and see what has happened in transport and education”

Govt amputates the country’s 20 DHBs in its health restructuring but consults the Treaty to prescribe a balm for Maori

Health, health and health were the subjects of three ministerial posts  – two of them were speeches –  on the Beehive website this morning.

They spell out the government’s plans for comprehensively overhauling the country’s health system.

They also step up the pace in the government’s perturbing programme of creating an “us” and “them” racial divide.

In his speech, Health Minister Andrew Little says he is laying out “a plan to create a truly national public health service”. National, yes, but with a separatist component.

Little described it as a system that takes health services to the people who need them, no matter who they are or where they live, and which draws on the best of what we have now, but will enable doctors, nurses and other health workers to concentrate on patients “instead of battling bureaucracy”.

Then he insisted the restructuring “will reinforce Te Tiriti principles and obligations”.

Readers who check out the three articles of the Treaty for guidance on shaping a health system will be hard pressed to find what this should entail.

Little also brought the concept of a Treaty partnership into considerations:  he said the system must work in true partnership with Māori to improve services and achieve equitable health outcomes. Continue reading “Govt amputates the country’s 20 DHBs in its health restructuring but consults the Treaty to prescribe a balm for Maori”

Indian flight ban passes muster with many lawyers but human rights chief wants more information

Chief  Human Rights Commissioner Paul Hunt is championing the rights of New Zealand citizens and residents who are being inconvenienced by the Government’s decision to suspend travel from India for two weeks.  

The Government needs to be more transparent about the decision, which took effect yesterday and will remain until April 28, he huffs.

Other experts and commentators seem to have found enough evidence to be satisfied – perhaps with reservations – about the legality of the travel constraint.  

Newshub recalled Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern saying the move had been made due to the large number of Covid-19 cases coming into New Zealand from India.

The country is currently battling a massive resurgence of the virus, with about 116,000 new cases announced on April 6 alone.

The numbers have surged since then. Continue reading “Indian flight ban passes muster with many lawyers but human rights chief wants more information”

NZ is absent from global group which questions WHO study – our health officials (we are told) were much too busy on Covid duty

The US and 14 other governments earlier this week issued a statement raising concerns about the recent World Health Organisation (WHO) study into the origins of the Covid-19 pandemic.  This was an interesting group: the US, Australia, Canada, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Israel, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, the Republic of Korea, Slovenia, and the United Kingdom.

New Zealand?  Er, no.

Apparently, we didn’t have the time to read even the executive summary which had been with officials, along with the main report, in the Ministry of Health for some time.

We are told by Beehive insiders that the ministry, which we all know is singly focused on defeating Covid, hadn’t the chance to study the document.

The report is mildly critical of China, stating that the review team hadn’t had full access to background documents and records. Continue reading “NZ is absent from global group which questions WHO study – our health officials (we are told) were much too busy on Covid duty”

A speech about NZ’s response to Covid-19, the pecking order for vaccines, and race-based ideas on who should be top of the list

Our Beehive Bulletin

Covid-19 dominated the latest news from the Beehive when we checked earlier today.

Associate Health Minister Minister Ayesha Verrall delivered a speech to an international audience of medical people.

And Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins announced the Government has confirmed strict criteria for early vaccinations for people who need to travel outside of New Zealand on compassionate grounds or for reasons of national significance.

This announcement struck a sour note with the Maori Party, which unabashedly promotes race-based ideas for deciding what the pecking order should be.

The party has its dander up over the decision to allow national sports teams to be vaccinated early if they are travelling overseas for a big event.

According to RNZ, Māori Party co-leader Rawiri Waititi said this is putting sports teams over indigenous people. Continue reading “A speech about NZ’s response to Covid-19, the pecking order for vaccines, and race-based ideas on who should be top of the list”

Lockdowns and the slow rollout of vaccines look likely to take their toll on the PM’s popularity

Is  the  smooth  run  for  the  Ardern  government  coming  to  an  end?  It  is  still  riding  high in the polls, but almost  imperceptibly the mood   appears   to be  changing.

Jacinda Ardern  may still be enjoying   a  status  few  other  prime  ministers  have attained but the fallibility  of  some of her ministers is coming  more  clearly  into  focus.

More  particularly, where  the government won so much kudos  in  its  response to   the Covid-19 pandemic, it  now  seems to  have lost its magic  touch.

Ardern herself appears  to be becoming  more defensive, pulling  out of her regular slot  on the Mike Hosking ZB  programme.

The latest  lockdowns  accentuated the  hardship  inflicted  on  business, particularly in Auckland, and   the  rollout  of  the Covid vaccination programme  has  been disappointingly  slow. Continue reading “Lockdowns and the slow rollout of vaccines look likely to take their toll on the PM’s popularity”

Everyone has a different Covid reality. That could be important

The role of chance in politics is often underrated.  The impact of Covid in different countries might illustrate this.

Take New Zealand and the UK, for example.  It’s difficult to think of a time when the mood in each country – to the extent that such a thing can actually be gauged – has been so divergent.

Continue reading “Everyone has a different Covid reality. That could be important”

Vaccine politics look like normal politics – just more extreme

Point of Order has been consistent in anticipating an irritable post-Brexit relationship between Britain and the EU.  But who would have thought vaccine politics would develop as a major flashpoint, let alone a possible relationship breaker?

Even hyper-critical Brits have had to acknowledge that the UK government is a leader in the global vaccination rollout.  And as more background information seeps into the public arena, the British government’s decisiveness in supporting vaccine development, committing early to contracts and driving mass vaccination is looking better and better.

But the same comparisons spell political danger for European politicians. Co-ordination by the EU appears to have resulted in slowness: slowness in making commitments, in tweaking the production process and in approving the product.

Continue reading “Vaccine politics look like normal politics – just more extreme”

Let’s see what Andrew Little prescribes to remedy structural weaknesses in NZ’s health system

One  of the biggest  challenges  facing the  Ardern  government  is in  public health.   New Zealand  may have  escaped the  pressures heaped on other  health  systems by the Covid-19 pandemic but  its  health service has had  its problems, not  least those  exposed  in the  first  report from Heather Simpson and her team   and subsequently in  the Simpson-Roche report revealing deficiencies in  handling  aspects of the response to Covid-19

Both  of  those reports underlined  structural weaknesses  within  the system,  not  only in the  district  health  boards,  but in the  Ministry of  Health.  To  repair  them  would be  a  singular challenge  for any minister. It is  notable  the Prime  Minister  nominated Andrew Little  as the  one  with  the  know-how  to get to grips  with  those particular headaches.

But even with the skills he has, reforming  district  health boards will be a severe test for Little. Some of  them are under enormous financial stress  while others  are  failing to provide  the  full range  of  services  in a  timely manner.  And  let’s not forget the  government  has  yet  to make  significant  progress  in overcoming  the deficiencies  it has  acknowledged in the country’s mental  health services.

Beyond  that  there  are  other pressing  challenges  in health, for example  with diabetes. Continue reading “Let’s see what Andrew Little prescribes to remedy structural weaknesses in NZ’s health system”

Seymour is saying the most as the pollies thrust and parry on the pros and cons of Covid policies

The tightening of the border to keep new strains of Covid-19 at bay and demands to hasten the Covid-19 vaccination programme have dominated political debate – at least insofar as press statements provide a measure – in recent days.

Opposition parties have been much busier than the government – or have made much more noise – by releasing several statements on Covid-19 issues since Sunday.

But one of those, posted on both the Scoop and Voxy websites on 11 January in the name of National’s Chris Bishop, perhaps should be discounted because it is a repetition of a statement he released on December 28:

“The announcement today that from early next year all returnees from the UK and US will require pre-departure testing is a sound decision and one that the National Party has been calling for since August when we proposed a Border Protection Agency, National’s Covid-19 Recovery spokesperson Chris Bishop.

This would have made more sense late last year but not early this year, because “early next year” now refers to early 2022.  Moreover, Point of Order could find no government announcement about returnees from the UK and US on January 11 to trigger Bishop’s remarks. Continue reading “Seymour is saying the most as the pollies thrust and parry on the pros and cons of Covid policies”