New indicators released to show health sector performance

Anna Whyte
Source: 1News

The Government today released slightly more detail around the impending health sector overhaul. 

Health Minister Andrew Little announced today the 'Health Sector indicators framework', data that will be made public every three months, which he said would complement the reforms.

The indicators are reflective of Government priorities, with Little describing it as a measure of how well the health system was functioning. 

The indicators include: 
- Immunisation rates for children by the time they are two-years-old
- Rate of hospital admissions for preventable illnesses of children under five
- Under 25s able to access specialist mental health in three weeks since referral, and overall access to primary mental health and addiction services
- Rate of hospital admissions for 45 to 64-year-olds with preventable illnesses
- Percentage of people who can get GP or nurse care when needed 
- The annual surplus/deficit and variance between planned budget

"This framework will help the sector focus on the areas that most need to improve – especially for Māori and Pacific peoples," Little said. 

"The indicators are based on the Government’s six priorities for health – improving child wellbeing, improving mental wellbeing, improving wellbeing through preventative measures, creating a strong and equitable public health system, better primary healthcare and a financially sustainable health system."

The new indicators mean that the national health targets will not be published to track performance, but DHBs will continue to report them to the Minsitry of Health.  

Little called the national health targets "arbitrary", adding they did not reflect the "real" priorities of the health system. 

“Even worse, they led to what can only be described as perverse outcomes, with district health boards seeking to meet, such as doing lots of small procedures instead fewer major ones so they could claim more people were being treated."

April saw plans for a significant shake up of New Zealand's health sector. Changes include an end to district health boards in favour for a national organisation, as well as creating a new Māori Health Authority and a new public health agency.

It came after a scathing report found New Zealand’s health system was under "serious stress", lacked leadership and did not serve Māori or people with disabilities well.