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”

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”

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”

Clark wants compassion suspended (temporarily) while Muller wants the Minister’s head (permanently)

Latest from the Beehive:

It wasn’t a word (in a Beehive press statement) that conveys great urgency or authority.  Nor does it convey strength of purpose.

Rather than the responsible  minister issuing an order, command, direction or instruction to the head of his ministry, we learned:

Health Minister Dr David Clark says he has required the Director General of Health to suspend compassionate exemptions from managed isolation, in order to ensure the system is working as intended.

It will only be reinstated once the Government has confidence in the system.

Having learned of a breach in the security system that is protecting us from Covid-19, in other words, the minister has delivered a requirement to the head of the ministry.

We note that – used in this way – at least one dictionary considers “required” archaic.

The trigger for the minister’s requiring a better performance was the revelation that two women who travelled here from the UK had tested positive for Covid-19 after being given a compassionate exemption to leave a managed isolation facility. Continue reading “Clark wants compassion suspended (temporarily) while Muller wants the Minister’s head (permanently)”

We are getting regular updates on Covid-19 cases and deaths – but we must wait until August for data on total deaths in March

Questions have been raised about how many people are dying of Covid-19 in the United Kingdom.

They stem from the way coronavirus deaths are counted in the UK – primarily who is counted and when.

The “official” death toll, according to the data presented by the UK government every day in Downing Street, was 26,097 deaths at 5pm 28 April.

Until the previous day, this figure focused solely on people who have died in hospital, according to an analysis in The Guardian.

But an additional 3,811 deaths in care homes and the community had been included.

Deaths in all settings where a positive Covid-19 test had been recorded by Public Health England henceforth would be reflected in the figures each day, according to the government.

But The Guardian was concerned that …

Figures recorded by the Office for National Statistics and the Care Quality Commission show at least 4,996 deaths were recorded in care homes in the two weeks to 24 April – a toll which is clearly at odds with the government’s latest figures, as many of the deceased will not have been tested. In addition to this, the key government figure is lagging, as it can take days or weeks for some deaths to be counted. Clearly this widely circulated figure, even when deaths in the community are included, is an undercount.

It will take weeks to get to a proper sense of how many people have died.

The final official figure will come from the statistical agencies of the four nations,  based on the number of death certificates which mention Covid-19.

The number of Covid-19 fatalities exceeded 20,000 in England and Wales on 15 April, but the official figure released by the government only passed 20,000 on 25 April.

We now know that as of 17 April the true total number of deaths was 55% higher than the official figure from the Department of Health and Social Care in England and Wales.

Point of Order asked Stats NZ if it – or any other agency in this country – gathered and published statistics which record weekly deaths and the causes of those deaths?

The answer:

Stats NZ publishes monthly deaths but March data won’t be available until August because of the lag in having it sent to us.

The data is supplied to us by the Department of Internal Affairs – http://www.dia.govt.nz/Contact-Us

Ministry of Health publish cause of death data. They normally have a lag of a couple of years while some cause of death data is finalised; however, Covid-19 related deaths are published on the government Covid-19 page – https://covid19.govt.nz/covid-19/about-covid-19/latest-data/  

The latest data at time of writing showed –

As at 9.00 am, 3 May 2020
Total Change in last 24 hours
Number of confirmed cases in New Zealand 1,136 2
Number of probable cases 351 0
Number of confirmed and probable cases 1,487 2
Number of cases currently in hospital 8 3
Number of recovered cases 1,266 3
Number of deaths 20 0

 

 

 

Cabinet’s challenge is to strike the right balance between halting contagion and getting Kiwis back to work

Finance Minister Grant Robertson trots out the phrase “go hard, go early”  in the battle against  Covid-19,  as  often as he used to declare  the  underlying fundamentals of  the  NZ  economy  are  “strong”.

Meanwhile   Health Minister  David  Clark   says   responding to  Covid-19   is a  “marathon,  not a  sprint”.

But  New Zealand  didn’t  “go early”.   The  Ministry  of   Health  on  January  24,  the  day after China  locked down  the  huge  city of  Wuhan because of the  outbreak of the disease,  said the  likelihood of a  sustained outbreak in  NZ  is  “low”.

It maintained that  line for  a month.  There was no  visible sign of the  ministry calling on ministers to scale up  stocks of relevant equipment, take precautions in retirement  homes,   or   increase the  number of Intensive Care Unit beds  and ventilators. Continue reading “Cabinet’s challenge is to strike the right balance between halting contagion and getting Kiwis back to work”

Déjà vu – sacked science columnist years ago warned of the need for draconian pandemic precautions

US President Donald Trump was widely mocked on social media after he referred to the coronavirus as a “germ that has gotten so brilliant” it’s even outsmarting antibiotics.

Trump was blissfully unaware that antibiotics are useless against a virus.  They are used to treat bacterial, not viral, infections

This is not to deny the coronavirus is a clever wee rascal.  It delayed manifesting itself until the US had a President it could outsmart.

But scientists have been expecting another virulent epidemic for years.

Long before being unceremoniously dumped and replaced as the Dominion-Post’s science column writer, Bob Brockie warned that another pandemic was not a matter of if but when. Continue reading “Déjà vu – sacked science columnist years ago warned of the need for draconian pandemic precautions”

How the Treaty and indigenous rights are being brought into the response to Covid-19

A news item by Māni Dunlop, Māori News Director, has been posted on the RNZ website  under the heading Government urged to put Māori at forefront of Covid-19 planning.

“Forefront” means the position of greatest importance or prominence.

One implication to be drawn from the headline, therefore. is that Māori should be promoted to take over from whomsoever now is heading the Covid-19 planning response team.

Another is that the planners should make Māori people their top priority.

Perhaps the headline writer misconstrued what the reporter was told.  Let’s see.

According to the report beneath the headline, RNZ had uncovered some Māori health professionals who were saying the government’s response to Covid-19 has serious shortfalls and blindspots for Māori.

The same doubtless could be said of other ethnic groups in this country – but only one group, so far as we  know, is being privileged with race-targeted funding.    Continue reading “How the Treaty and indigenous rights are being brought into the response to Covid-19”

Ministry official sticks to her guns (despite Checkpoint nagging) about funding for provider of services for the disabled

RNZ’s Checkpoint last Friday reported that Laura Fergusson Rehabilitation will be closing all services in Whanganui, Waikato and Auckland by August this year because of a lack of funding.

Clients affected by the decision understandably expressed their concerns.

Laura Fergusson Rehabilitation offers residential and outpatient care including programmes for people living with disabilities and those affected by strokes, brain and spinal injury.

Whether an organisation that has helped thousands of New Zealanders was adequately funded by government agencies is a key issue. Continue reading “Ministry official sticks to her guns (despite Checkpoint nagging) about funding for provider of services for the disabled”

Cancer researchers – looking for the causes of survival disparities – should check out the role of “partnership”

A modern-day interpretation of the Treaty of Waitangi – contentiously bringing “partnership” into considerations –  is encouraging Maori demands for equal representation on a new health agency.

The government has announced it will establish a national Cancer Control Agency by December as part of a 10-year strategy, which includes achieving cancer survival equity by 2030.

This triggered a Maori health leader’s insistence on equal representation within the new agency and her call for Maori to decide what this means in practice. Continue reading “Cancer researchers – looking for the causes of survival disparities – should check out the role of “partnership””