Mixed feelings in South Island over major health sector shake-up

Author
Newstalk ZB,
Publish Date
Wed, 21 Apr 2021, 2:57PM
Health Minister Andrew Little has outlined the Government's plan to fix New Zealand's healthcare system. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Health Minister Andrew Little has outlined the Government's plan to fix New Zealand's healthcare system. Photo / Mark Mitchell

Mixed feelings in South Island over major health sector shake-up

Author
Newstalk ZB,
Publish Date
Wed, 21 Apr 2021, 2:57PM

There appears to be mixed feelings in the South Island over the Government's announcement all of the 20 District Health Boards will be replaced by one, single national health body.

It will be called Health New Zealand and is part of the biggest changes to the country's health care system in history.

And a new Māori Health authority will also be set up, with the power to commission health services and monitor Māori health, as well as developing policy.

Canterbury DHB member James Gough has slammed the changes.

He said he's concerned for how this will look for the rural health sector.

"Ranfurly isn't Rolleston and Auckland isn't Christchurch so having that local understanding of the needs of the community, I think, is really important.

"It's a one size fits all approach and they generally don't work."

Gough said he does not believe this is the way forward for the public system.

"The changes we are seeing or what has been proposed seems incredibly costly, radical, and not founded on good advice but potentially damaging to the communities we are trying to protect."

CDHB member Aaron Keown said he is surprised by the announcement.

"I'm surprised they went this far with the changes. There were definitely changes that were needed, are they the ones they've gone for? Probably not.

"Canterbury will always have a strong voice but it's the smaller districts in the smaller areas who will be told what will happen to their services, they won't have a say."

Keown said he remembers when National did something similar and it didn't stack up financially.

"It didn't work. I don't know if this will get us the gains they are after."

Meanwhile, on the West Coast, DHB chairman Tony Kokshoorn said he thinks the health sector did need reform.

He said a challenge has been laid to bring over more doctors to the area and keep them.

"It's not everybody's cup of tea coming here but we need to be able to pay them what is needed to bring them here rather than the ever decreasing amount of money available for the front line workers.

"I do think the regions need representation somehow in the new system. I don't know how but each region needs to be able to put input in to make sure they're taken care of."