Tim Dower: Are we really better off after Government's health reforms?

Author
Tim Dower,
Publish Date
Thu, 22 Apr 2021, 10:53AM
Photo / NZ Herald
Photo / NZ Herald

Tim Dower: Are we really better off after Government's health reforms?

Author
Tim Dower,
Publish Date
Thu, 22 Apr 2021, 10:53AM

The health reforms.

A big shake-up, and you have to wonder if this can be done in the time the Government has left.

Point one, the size of the problem.

We're currently running 85 public hospitals, in a country of five million people.

Taxpayers put more than $20 billion into the health system, that's about $4,000 a year, for every single person in the country.

And then there's the ACC contribution, picking up the cost of road crashes, work accidents and so on.

One of the things that's got a lot of attention is the scrapping of all the DHBs in favour of a single new authority, Health New Zealand.

People think we're spending too much money on admin in the DHBs and that's probably true.

But surely the problem with the Boards surely isn't the cost of having them, roughly $70 million a year, basically for admin that could and arguably should be done centrally.

70 million dollars though is just peanuts, up against the big picture of that $20 billion in Vote Health.

One real problem with the Boards has been the competence of people who put themselves up for election.

Some are bloody good.

Some, less so.

And be honest with yourself, how many of the names on the list actually meant anything to you, last time we voted for the DHBs?

More of an issue to me is the replication of back office work.

Strings of very well paid executives who basically present the elected members with a mountain of papers to sign off.

Unwieldy, cumbersome, and sadly, open to abuse, if not corruption and we've seen a bit of that.

But is a centralised authority running health from four head offices instead of 20 going to be any better?

And will it cost less than $70 million to run, I sincerely doubt that.