The govt has no national health target for elective surgery – perhaps David Clark should tell his ministry

The Ministry of Health website and the Minister of Health are out of synch, when it comes to elective surgery.

On a page last updated on August 10 last year, readers will find a section headed Health targets: Improved access to elective surgery.

This says the Government has directed the ministry to develop a new set of performance measures to improve health outcomes for New Zealanders.

While work is underway to develop these new measures DHBs will continue to report to the Ministry against the current set of health targets, as well as against a previously established suite of wider measures.

Readers are referred to the Health targets page for more information on the development of new measures.

On the specific matter of improved access to elective surgery, a sub-heading asks:  What is the target?

The answer (drum roll, please) is: 

The volume of elective surgery will be increased by an average of 4000 discharges per year.

Continue reading “The govt has no national health target for elective surgery – perhaps David Clark should tell his ministry”

Where’s Dr Clark while doctors press for more pay? Providing rewards for volunteer health workers

Health Minister David Clark stoically resists pleas to intervene in the nation-wide junior doctors’ strike, which has resulted in thousands of doctors downing tools – or stethoscopes – following  failed negotiations with district health boards on employment conditions.

But he has announced rewards for volunteer health workers and he has responded to questions in Parliament about the impact the doctors’  is having on patients.

Whether Clark has a thorough appreciation of all the impacts – and/or will publicly reveal them if he does – is arguable, but according to RNZ:   Continue reading “Where’s Dr Clark while doctors press for more pay? Providing rewards for volunteer health workers”

Professor heads team to tackle the complexities of cancer control in small island states

Parliament’s   health and   justice select  committee   heard harrowing  tales this week  from  women afflicted  with  advanced  breast cancer pleading   for  the politicians to  help them access   drugs  which  would  prolong  their lives.

The  Dominion-Post reported   cancer  patient   Marg  Dobson appealed for  an  inquiry  into  Pharmac — which she called  the  “gatekeeper of the  public purse” –— claiming women  with  stage four  breast cancer   deserved “gold standard treatment”,  whereas NZ  offered  only bronze. 

Imagine,   then,  the plight of a woman living  in  a  Pacific Island  country or territory contracting breast  cancer. Many Pacific Island countries and territories don’t have adequate screening, pathology, oncology, surgical or palliation services.

These nations face the triple burdens of high rates of infection-related cancer, rapid transition to cancers relating to reproductive, dietary and hormonal factors, as well as ageing populations.

Many of them are unable to provide cancer services, so patients either don’t receive care, or are treated offshore where resources allow. This poses a huge economic burden on countries, the patient and their families.

But at least NZ  is now doing  its  bit  to help the island states to ease  this burden. Continue reading “Professor heads team to tackle the complexities of cancer control in small island states”

Alarm is sounded – health boards (we are told) will need another funding transfusion as their deficits rise

National’s Health spokesman, Michael Woodhouse, set out to win media headlines today by portending a ballooning of the combined deficit of New Zealand’s 20 district health boards to about $500 million.  He came up with that number on the strength of information from his “sources“.

He said the growth in the deficit was disappointing and recalled Health Minister David Clark’s pledge – when he took office – to bring it under control.

His statement said:

“The deficit for 2018/19 could be more than four times as high as the last year of the previous National Government. The Health Minister said in December 2017 that DHB debt was ‘deeply concerning’ and ‘cannot be allowed to continue’ but it has worsened on his watch.

“More than a year after pledging to rein in the deficits, the DHBs are in a weaker financial position. Eight months into the latest fiscal year Dr Clark has yet to announce the approval of a single annual plan and he has stalled on releasing any financial details for the DHBs.” Continue reading “Alarm is sounded – health boards (we are told) will need another funding transfusion as their deficits rise”

The case for a sugar tax is sweetened if NZIER report is overlooked

When Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said New Zealand would  not join the countries that are signing up for a war against drugs – as championed by US President Donald Trump – she said her government has an agenda that is focused on addressing issues around drug use.

“We have a number of challenges that are quite specific to New Zealand and the type of drugs that are present, but also I’m taking a health approach.

“We want to do what works, so we are using a strong evidence-base to do that.”

Whether she will similarly use a strong evidence base to decide on how to reduce sugar consumption is a moot point.

Questioned a year ago by Mike Hosking on Newstalk ZB, she said reducing sugar is a priority of the new government. Continue reading “The case for a sugar tax is sweetened if NZIER report is overlooked”

  David Clark (it had to happen) gets something right

In  one of the smartest  moves he has made,   Health Minister  David Clark  has recruited  Steve  Maharey to  be  Pharmac’s  chairman.  Unlike  many of the  “Labour luvvies”   being named  these   days  to  various  panels and  other  well-paid jobs, Maharey  has genuine  credentials for  the task.

He  was one of the  most effective ministers in the Clark government and then  moved  out of politics  when he believed  he had   contributed all he could in that  sphere.  He  subsequently  had  a stellar  period in public  service  as  Vice-chancellor of  Massey University  from 2008  to  2016. Continue reading ”  David Clark (it had to happen) gets something right”

Let’s not just make it an option – let’s give rongoā Māori a cancer trial

Preacher Bill Subritzky, whose “patients” claimed his prayers could heal cancer, brought a team of evangelists to Wellington a few years ago to pray for the sick.

Health authorities warned people to approach their healing claims with “extreme caution”.  But fliers distributed to Wellington households contained testimonies from Subritzky’s followers telling of miraculous recoveries from cancer, kidney failure and arthritis.

“I had kidney failure and was instantly healed after Bill prayed for me,” one says.

Rather than disparage the faith healer, blogger David Farrar proposed Subritzky spend a month at Mary Potter Hospice praying to cure their cancers. Continue reading “Let’s not just make it an option – let’s give rongoā Māori a cancer trial”