Health targets will deliver better outcomes for New Zealanders

The coalition Government’s commitment to five key health targets will drive better outcomes for all New Zealanders, in the concluding announcement to its 100 day plan.

Health Minister Dr Shane Reti announced the targets in Whangārei, saying they represented a vigorous new direction in health from a Government determined to deliver for all New Zealanders. 

“These five targets are tightly focused on faster cancer treatment, improved immunisation rates, shorter stays in ED, shorter wait times for first specialist assessments (FSAs) and shorter times for elective treatment.

“The targets clearly spell out: 

  • Faster cancer treatment - 90 per cent of patients to receive cancer management within 31 days of the decision to treat.   
  • Improved immunisation for kids - 95 per cent of children to be fully immunised at 24 months of age. 
  • Shorter stays in emergency departments - 95 per cent of patients to be admitted, discharged or transferred from an ED within six hours.  
  • Shorter wait times for first specialist assessment – 95 per cent of patients to wait less than four months for an FSA.    
  • Shorter wait times for treatment – 95 per cent of patients to wait less than four months for elective treatment.

“It is important that we are ambitious in trying to achieve better health outcomes for New Zealanders. The health system went backwards under the previous government and its failure to drive targets. Having effective targets, and reporting on them publicly, helps identify where there are problems – and how we can take action to improve them.

“Cancer touches thousands of Kiwi families each year and although our Government has already made a number of advancements including steps to raise the breast screening age, providing increased access to PET-CT scanning and more cancer drugs, we know there’s still a long way to go. 

“In childhood immunisation, New Zealand sits at a disappointing 83 per cent, well behind countries like the UK, Australia and Canada. The best we’ve ever achieved was 93 per cent around 10 years ago. We need to do much better for our children.

“Shorter stays in ED are a snapshot of how the whole health system is coping as the interface between community and hospital care. We will be working hard on keeping people out of the EDs and avoiding bed block when they need to be admitted to hospital.

“I do want to acknowledge that achieving shorter wait times for First Specialist Assessments and for elective treatments were tough for the previous government, and will be tough for us too. 

“The current level of ‘achievement’ around FSA is 66 per cent of people seen within four months, with the target level last achieved six years ago. 

“Electives – things like important hip and knee surgeries - are another sad story.  COVID-19 has had an influence but wait lists were rising in the years before it even arrived. 

“Health workforce will be key to achieving these targets. We know how committed the health workforce is and how hard they are working, which is why building our workforce remains a priority. 

“For these targets, Health New Zealand – Te Whatu Ora will report progress regularly. HNZ will be directed to publish transparent results on each of the five targets every quarter. The targets come into effect on 1 July 2024, so the first quarterly results will be for July-September 2024. 

“We are unapologetically an outcomes-driven Government. In Health, that means setting targets which will deliver better results for all New Zealanders.”