Government must stop ad hoc health planning

Published: Thu 6 Dec 2007 10:40 AM
FROM: Dr Paul Ockelford, Acting Chair, New Zealand Medical
DATE: Thursday, 6th December 2007.
SUBJECT: Government must stop ad hoc health planning
The Government must ensure that crucial health planning is not conducted on an ad hoc basis in response to local financial crisis situations, the NZMA said today. Today’s Dominion Post reported plans to cut 30-50 doctors from the staff at Capital and Coast DHB in order to limit future deficits.
“While it is clear that there are serious issues with this DHB, the underlying factors are shared by many DHBs throughout the system, and a national approach to addressing them is essential,” said NZMA Deputy Chair Dr Paul Ockelford.
“In particular, the reported moves to slash the numbers of doctors involved in the provision of high quality, demanding tertiary level services in Wellington are incredibly short-sighted and have national implications for what is already a fragile and frustrated medical workforce”.
“DHBs just can’t be allowed to try to solve these major problems outside a national context, and we need to see a change in approach,” Dr Ockelford said.
There are three key elements which need to be put in place to address the pressures facing both our hospitals and the wider health sector:
* The Ministry of Health must urgently develop a national comprehensive medical workforce strategy. The NZMA has been calling for this for more than 10 years.
* There must be a move away from the obsession with funding as the primary focus, and a return to an acceptance that service delivery by professionals is the key element of our health system.
* We need comprehensive policy frameworks for services in the interests of national consistency. Included in these must be a national tertiary services plan.
“The Ministry of Health has been indicating that it intends to move in these directions, but we need to see some rapid progress if we are to avoid further serious problems with our essential health services,” Dr Ockelford said. “We just can’t afford to get it wrong, and there is little time to spare.”

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