Limitoo News

'One size fits all' approach to health not working, health minister says

Ayesha Verrall
Health Minister Ayesha Verrall. Photo: RNZ / Samuel Rillstone

Plans have been unveiled by the government to shift health spending from fixing problems to preventing them.

Health Minister Ayesha Verrall said the government's 10-year blueprint for the health sector - Pae Ora | Healthy Futures Strategies - was about "more than what health services can do".

"It also recognises that we need to support and empower people to take control of their own health, and address the wider factors which drive good health and wellbeing," Verrall said.

"It's vital we prioritise the prevention, reduction and delaying of ill health wherever possible. This means shifting focus and resource towards preventive healthcare, not just spending more on the same services to fix the same problems."

The plan aimed to shift resources to prevention long-term to benefit all New Zealanders, alongside five specific strategies for Māori, Pasifika, people with disabilities, women and rural communities.

"This is the first time Pacific peoples, women and rural communities have had their own health strategies," Verrall said.

Today's publication followed extensive engagement by Manatū Hauora - the Ministry of Health, Te Aka Whai Ora and Ministry for Ethnic Communities through face-to-face meetings, wānanga, fono, focus groups, online discussions, written submissions and in-depth workshops.

"During the process, we heard stories of people who didn't get the help they needed because of gender, orientation or ethnicity," Verrall said.

"We heard that we need to end the 'one size fits all' approach to health services, regardless of what people actually need.

"The old health system had become too remote and detached. The Pae Ora strategies and our wider health reforms are designed to tackle this and support greater community-driven participation over health service delivery."

She said the public can expect to see practical implementation plans for these high level aspirational goals by the middle of next year, with government agencies now working on policies and budgets to make this "ambitious vision" a reality.

"Change of this scale will take time, however health isn't just a short-term outcome. These strategies provide the direction for lasting change."