Monitoring (or is it oversight?) gets good results in Westland but the Canterbury DHB requires strong medicine

Central government monitoring seems to have done the trick on one side of the Southern Alps.  Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta has declared she is satisfied “the close monitoring” of the Westland District Council by an Oversight Committee can draw to a close.

he had written to the council in July and September last year, expressing concerns about poor processes, dysfunctional governance and management, non-compliance with policies, and natural hazard management. Later in the year she established an Oversight Committee comprising key government agencies to support the council as it worked to improve its performance.

But she seemed curiously disinclined to call it monitoring.

In a statement on November 26 she said:

“The Council has heard the extent of the concerns raised and has taken steps to respond. Westland have demonstrated they are establishing governance committees to provide transparency of decision making, putting in systems and frameworks for policies and processes, and learning from pas t experience”.

But she said there was benefit “from a level of oversight” and had tasked an existing group to provide support to the council to support necessary changes.

Continue reading “Monitoring (or is it oversight?) gets good results in Westland but the Canterbury DHB requires strong medicine”

The focus will be on “population health” (really?) as Clark and the PM set about reducing DHB numbers while building new structures

Latest from the Beehive –

The Government is committing to a long-term programme of reform to build a stronger New Zealand Health and Disability System that delivers for all.

So declared Health Minister David Clark, when releasing the final report of the Health and Disability System Review, which makes a series of far-reaching recommendations.

Whether the outcome is a system that delivers FAIRLY for all remains to be seen.  We make that point while reflecting on the recent decision in the Wellington region where district health boards (according to this press statement)

“ … are prioritising Maori and Pacific in our surgical scheduling processes. The patients’ ethnicity is taken into account along with their level of clinical urgency and the number of days they have been on the waiting list within a given clinical priority band.

Among other contentious consequences, this implies patients of a certain ethnicity will be accorded a higher priority than people of non-priority ethnicities, regardless of – let’s say – wealth considerations.

The other big deal in the report released today is organisational.  On the one hand, it calls for fewer district health boards (hooray).  On the other it proposes new structures to keep health bureaucrats in jobs. Continue reading “The focus will be on “population health” (really?) as Clark and the PM set about reducing DHB numbers while building new structures”

Tourism might win something from the Budget (as Racing already has done), but we will have to wait to learn how much

The big bucks – in pre-Budget announcements yesterday – went to health.  The headline number in this case was a record investment in district health boards of an extra $3.92 billion ($980 million a year) which Health Minister David Clark gloated was the biggest-ever increase in funding for the boards, as well as additional funding to deliver around 153,000 more surgeries and procedures, radiology scans and specialist appointments to help clear the COVID-19 backlog.

But when it comes to getting the biggest bang for your buck politically (they are our bucks, actually, on second thoughts), we reckon the day was won by Deputy Prime Minister and Racing Minister Winston Peters.  He delivered “a pre-Budget announcement on emergency support assistance for the New Zealand racing industry”.

The assistance amounts to a $50 million grant (which means handout) to be provided immediately for the Racing Industry Transition Agency, $26 million of it to enable  RITA to “honour its outstanding supplier payments”.

Peters couldn’t help but bray about this decision and his role in it: Continue reading “Tourism might win something from the Budget (as Racing already has done), but we will have to wait to learn how much”

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”

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”