Health survey reinforces need for urgent action

Today’s New Zealand Health Survey results underline just how badly an urgent change in direction for health is required, Health Minister Dr Shane Reti says. 

The New Zealand Health Survey is an annual snapshot of key metrics. The 2023 findings released by the Ministry of Health this morning include:

  • One in five adults (21.2%) and one in seven children (14.8%) experiencing ‘time taken to get an appointment being too long’ as a barrier to visiting the GP in the 12 months prior to the 2022/23 survey. This increased from the previous year (11.6% for adults and 8.0% for children).
  • One in eight adults (12.9%) reported not visiting a GP due to cost in the 12 months prior to the 2022/23 survey. This is higher than the previous two years, but less than other years since 2011/12. 
  • 18.0% of children visited the emergency department in 2022/23, up from 14.4% in 2017/18. Visits in 2022/23 were highest among children aged 0-4 years (28.7%).

“On so many measures, health outcomes have declined under Labour. There are isolated bright spots in this survey, such as declining smoking rates and a decline in hazardous drinking, but there is also a huge amount to be concerned about,” Dr Reti says.

“It’s been clear for the past six years that the health system as a whole has been under enormous pressure and today’s findings reinforce that. As a consequence, ordinary New Zealanders have been left without the care they need. 

“Our coalition government is more committed than ever to drive five key priorities for change in health.

  • Shorter stays in emergency department 
  • Faster cancer treatment 
  • Improved immunisation 
  • Shorter wait times for first specialist assessment 
  • Shorter wait times for surgery

“A high priority is the health workforce – improved support for our workforce is key to solving these other major issues.

“As we’ve seen in today’s results, Labour’s approach to health took New Zealand backwards. Wait lists and wait times have soared, childhood immunisation rates have plunged, and New Zealanders are facing longer delays in accessing healthcare. 

“In one further item that has a clear correlation between the cost of living crisis, and health, it’s also been hugely upsetting for me to learn from the survey that more than one in three Māori (35.1%) and Pacific (39.6%) children were living in households where food ran out often or sometimes in the year prior.

“That compared to nearly one in six European/Other and one in eight Asian  children.

“That’s unacceptable. It’s way past time for government to step up and deliver better health outcomes for all New Zealanders. That’s what I am committed to do,” Shane Reti says. 

The full Health Survey results are available at