Cultural context is important for better health care outcomes, but the job comes first, newly appointed health spokesperson for National Shane Reti said today.
Dr Reti was responding to criticism of National's lack of diversity on its front bench under previous leader Todd Muller.
"I think what's important is people want the job done in health care and so we've always said that merit is the prime criteria, but we also understand that people want to see themselves in a caucus, in a National Party," he told TVNZ1's Breakfast today.
"Particularly in health, it's very clear that if you deliver health in a cultural context that is appropriate for the person you get a better outcome."
Breakfast host Scotty Stevenson asked, "so in health ethnicity is important, in the National Party not so much?"
"No, in the National Party it is important as well," Dr Reti responded. "We recognise that we need to look like our constituents and we strive that way, but they still want us to do the job first."
Dr Reti said being a doctor meant he brought "a very patient-centred focus" to his role as health spokesperson.
"Our policies are well advanced already and they'll have a slightly different flavour now, we'll do that over this next week or two, because we've got new captains at the ship, so we'll reframe and re-look at some of the policies we've spent a lot of time on," he said.
"I think what you'll see is very evidence-based, you'll see outcome focused and I think what you'll also see is a relationship with the health workforce because I have the benefit of having the tertiary portfolio as well and that's really important."