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”
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”
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”
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”
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”
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”
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”
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”
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”
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”