Government defends health reform banishing DHBs

Nicole Bremner
Source: 1News

The Government is defending the implementation of a centralised health system, despite criticism from the National Party and a leading public health specialist.

The biggest restructure of New Zealand's health system in 20 years is underway.

It spells an end to the nation's 20 district health boards which will be replaced by a centralised Wellington agency, Health NZ, and a dedicated Māori Health Authority with a focus on improving outcomes for Māori.

National's health spokesperson, Dr Shane Reti, is questioning the wisdom of the reforms in the midst of a pandemic, whether centralisation is an appropriate delivery mechanism and the cost he claims is nearly $500,000.

Public health specialist, Professor Boyd Swinburn, is also concerned that the reform is too hospital focused rather than on preventing people getting sick.

But Health Minister Andrew Little is rejecting the criticism and says centralisation will cut through bureaucracy and deliver more frontline services.

He also says it will include the establishment of New Zealand's first National Public Health Agency.

The reform is a massive, highly complex logistical exercise. It's expected to be several years for the new system to be operating fully independently of the current system.