Health briefing confirms need for change

Published: Mon 15 Dec 2008 03:42 PM
Hon Tony Ryall
Minister of Health
Minister of State Services
15 December 2008
Media Release
Health briefing for incoming Minister confirms need for change
The Health Minister, Hon Tony Ryall said his briefing from the Ministry of Health has confirmed the health system faces major challenges: increasing demand for health services with worsening finances and a workforce crisis.
Mr Ryall said, “What it reveals is that we have inherited a mess in Health. There is a clear need to improve service and get value for every health dollar spent.
The briefing says there is a growing momentum for change in the health and disability system but the pace and extent of the change needed are not widely realised. This is official-speak for we've got big problems," Mr Ryall said.
“There are real issues with DHBs' finances. Since being in office it’s been revealed that the total deficits for 2008-09 have ballooned from $111 million to $150 million. This is a real challenge.
“We want to halt the growth in health bureaucracy. We want to see fewer back office staff and more doctors and nurses.
“We plan to open the books on hospital waiting lists and take a close look at vulnerable services around the country. New Zealanders have a right to know where their taxes are spent and what the future holds, in terms of services.
“Workforce issues are widespread across the sector. One of the solutions lies in greater use of clinical leadership to improve quality and job satisfaction. To help keep younger health professionals in the country we will be introducing a voluntary bonding scheme offering student loan write-offs to graduate doctors, nurses and midwives who agree to work in hard-to-staff communities and specialties.
The report says the rate of growth in new funding has already slowed and, as the fiscal environment becomes increasingly constrained, provision for inflation and demographic pressures is likely to outstrip new funding. It is clear that maintaining service coverage and investing in new high-value areas will require greater efficiency, savings, and reprioritisation across the system.
“This government is committed to getting the health system in shape. We have clear priorities to ensure we can deliver the best possible public health services within the resources available to the people of New Zealand,” Tony Ryall said.
The Briefing for the Incoming Minster of Health is available at and

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