Mike's Minute: When will we wake up to our broken health system?

Author
Mike Hosking,
Publish Date
Wed, 11 Dec 2019, 9:39AM

Mike's Minute: When will we wake up to our broken health system?

Author
Mike Hosking,
Publish Date
Wed, 11 Dec 2019, 9:39AM

COMMENT

Whether Health Minister David Clark was misquoted or not, yet again in an area of extraordinary expense and no shortage of expectation, we have a spectacular failure in leadership in our health system.

It seems to defy belief that the Government can review the entire DHB system off the back of virtually everyone I have ever asked agreeing that the system doesn't work or anywhere close to it while at the same time, appoint a bunch of tokenistic enthusiasts who may or may not have any skill or experience whatsoever in health or management, or dare we hope, both.

There are the usual party favourites such as Rick Barker and Sir Michael Cullen, a large collection of the woke and, as it turns out, Government favourites, women and Māori.

"For the first time, the number of Māori chairs and deputies reflects the proportion of our Māori population," Clark is reported as saying. "This is crucial to improving health outcomes for New Zealand's Māori communities."'

So in telling us the good news this week, not a single word about skill, experience, or background in the area was uttered, just that there were lots of women and lots of Māori. As though race and gender have anything to do with the management of healthcare.

Given the danger of the thinking, therefore the actions, I now have serious doubts that the DHB review, which you may remember was announced early in the Government's tenure and slated to last the spectacularly long three years, that it will actually lead to anything at all. Far less what it should lead to, which is a major overhaul of a system that is so antiquated, so amateurish, and so wasteful it's verging on a crime that it's been allowed to continue for so many years.

Eleven members on each board, 20 boards, you do the math. Well 19 boards - one is run by a Commissioner because it became so dysfunctional.

Every single one of them is in the red, bleeding money, bar one. The debt is hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars. The services we get in many areas is abysmal if not, non-existent. The queues are growing, along with the dysfunction.

Two hundred and nine board members, can you believe that number? In a country of five million: 209. But along with all the wasteful administrative nonsense, what are they doing? Representing their communities, is what the government will tell you. What does that even mean?

When a car hits a tree and the ambulance drags you off to hospital that's not about your community, because it doesn't matter where it happened. It's all the same, it's about doctors, nurses, medication, theatres, expertise, and facilities.

That's the forgotten story of health in the public system, it's about fixing people up.

Yes, there is the odd part of the country due to ethnic make up that requires an emphasis on certain areas of speciality. But not many and certainly not enough to require more than 200 amateur do-gooders, picked on gender and race rather than expertise, to justify this farcical practice of politics over good health.

And the most frustrating part is this is all so damn obvious, and yet - captured by the ideology - they refuse to see it. The thinking is as broken as the system they purport to want to run properly.

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