National's Health Targets No Magic Bullet

Published: Thu 17 Sep 2020 03:55 PM
The Association of Salaried Medical Specialists says politically set health targets are no magic bullet for addressing the growing number of New Zealanders who are missing out on hospital treatment.
As part of its health policy released yesterday, the National Party says it would reintroduce public reporting of updated national health targets to monitor DHB performance, including cancer treatment times, elective surgeries and emergency department wait times.
“These targets miss the point and serve a political purpose rather than working to meet the healthcare needs of New Zealanders,” says ASMS Executive Director Sarah Dalton.
“DHBs and health staff have been battling to keep up with increased demand for acute care in a system which was starved of funding under the previous National-led Government”.
An ASMS report last year Hospitals on the Edge, estimates there are up to 430,000 people who are missing out on treatment and being rejected for specialist treatment because hospitals do not have capacity and many services are being rationed.
“Target-setting does not address this growing unmet need or take account of the growing workload of the specialist workforce which is already suffering from burnout and staffing shortfalls estimated at up to 24%. We would like to see something in National’s health policy on how to address workforce shortages,” she says.
Sarah Dalton says all political parties need to acknowledge that political consensus is required when it comes to what New Zealanders need from their health system.
“Health needs to be viewed as a long game. We need to see priority-setting and a commitment to investment which goes further than political cycles or the makeup of the elected Government of the day,” she adds.

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