Access and Equity Focus of Health System Reforms


Reforming New Zealand’s health system will deliver better outcomes for all, Health Minister Andrew Little says.

“Our publicly-funded health system is one of New Zealand’s greatest assets.  It performs well on a range of metrics but is under serious stress and does not deliver equally for all,” Andrew Little said.

“Life expectancy at birth for Māori and Pacific peoples is significantly lower than that for other groups and around half of deaths are potentially avoidable, more than double the rate of other New Zealanders. Disabled people, on average, also face outcomes worst than most others.” 

Next month, the Government will announce the new shape and structure for the health and disability system which will be the blueprint for the health sector in the future.

“Tackling inequity will be at the heart of the change we make,” Andrew Little said.

In its first term the Government completed the Health and Disability System Review / Hauora Manaaki Ki Aotearoa Whānui (HDSR) to consider options for reform to make it more equitable and sustainable. 

“The review found our health system has become complex and unnecessarily fragmented with unclear roles, responsibilities and boundaries. There is duplication of activity, and variation that creates a post-code lottery when accessing services,” Andrew Little said.

“Who you are and where you live shouldn’t determine access to quality health services.

“Addressing inequities is not about creating an advantage. There is no advantage in being sicker and dying younger. It is about removing disadvantage and ensuring everyone has access to the same level of high-quality care.

“We’ve been working hard for the last five months developing proposals to ensure New Zealanders get the health services they need and expect.  While I can’t pre-empt the decisions Cabinet will make over coming weeks, there are five key shifts we need to deliver.”

  1. The health system will reinforce Te Tiriti principles and obligations to address current inequities and provide a stronger voice and influence for Māori, including a new Māori Health Authority.
  2. People will have more support to help them stay well in their communities through a better range of integrated primary and community services with increased access and protected funding to help them stay well.
  3. High quality emergency or specialist care when it’s needed to ensure equitable access through services planned to ensure the best distribution of care and equitable access across all regions.
  4. Digital services and technology will provide more care in people’s homes and communities building on the virtual care we saw during the COVID-19 response and providing more ways for people to access safe, quality and convenient services.
  5. Health and care workers will be valued and well-trained ensuring we have enough trained people, resourced to provide better services for our communities.

“I certainly don’t underestimate the size or the complexity of this task, but the ambition is right and New Zealanders deserve a country where people live longer in good health and have an improved quality of life,” Andrew Little said.

Click here to read the associated speech: The case for change in the health system - building a stronger Health and Disability System that delivers for all New Zealanders