Ethnicity Wait List Criterion Will Help Secure Just Health Outcomes Says NZNO

Published: Tue 20 Jun 2023 02:53 PM
The New Zealand Nurses Organisation Tōpūtanga Tapuhi Kaitiaki o Aotearoa (NZNO) says it supports ethnicity being part of the logarithmically derived Equity Adjustor Score currently applied to decisions over surgical wait times in Auckland.
NZNO Kaiwhakahaere Kerri Nuku says the approach should be adopted nationally as a way of upholding te Tiriti o Waitangi across the health system and addressing historic institutional racism in health, which has disadvantaged Māori and Pasifika people in particular for decades.
"Of course clinical urgency has to be the first priority, nobody should have life-saving or critically important health care delayed on the basis of race. But we do think ethnicity and where someone lives should be part of the overall score that determines how you are prioritised for your surgery.
"We need to remember that Māori and Pasifika people are already years behind when it comes to interacting with the health system, especially those who live remotely or who are the most disenfranchised from a traditionally colonial health system.
"That means they are sicker with more acute health needs requiring more health resources in their treatment."
Ms Nuku says inequitable health outcomes for Māori and Pasifika peoples are already a significant contributor to the intense workloads currently faced by understaffed nurses, health care assistants, midwives and kaimahi hauora across the health system.
"Upholding te Tiriti in health is the number one item on NZNO’s Maranga Mai! health campaign agenda because we know that what is good for Māori is good for everyone in Aotearoa New Zealand.
"Inequality is a massive drain on resources because it shuts people out of the health system and then costs are multiplied when they finally present for treatment in an advanced state of unwellness that could have been avoided.
"Tax payers foot the bill for that. It’s a waste of resources. It’s a waste of people’s lives and it is fundamentally unjust."
She said it is incumbent on the Government and Ministry of Health to find ways to combat the unfairness Māori and Pasifika face in accessing health care.
"This is one small thing we could do that could lift the statistics, improve health outcomes for Māori and help us get closer to the equitable health system we all want.
"It’s one small thing we could do to help address the pressure on our health workers over time because reducing the health needs for Māori, the poor and the remote will lead to better health over all and reduced demands on the time of the people who care for them."

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