Big ‘to do’ list for new Health Minister
The Association of Salaried Medical Specialists Toi Mata Hauora welcomes the appointment of Andrew Little to the role of Health Minister, saying he has a strong track record in Government and his work on Treaty negotiations will support a much-needed focus on ending health inequities.
It also welcomes the inclusion of both Associate Health Ministers in Cabinet. Peeni Henare’s suite of responsibilities sits well with the social determinants of health and wellbeing. Former ASMS member, Dr Ayesha Verrall’s clinical expertise will add real force to the key public health portfolio.
“ASMS has long advocated for clinically-led decision making, and we are thrilled to have a physician leading this work in Government,” says ASMS Executive Director Sarah Dalton.
The health portfolio is complex and challenging and is never one for the faint-hearted.
“Andrew Little will need to quickly get to grips with a system that is struggling under the weight of a long starve in funding, growing waiting lists, staffing shortages, and failing infrastructure and IT. Given all this, it is pleasing to note that responsibility for Covid-19 has been separated out so that work on the pandemic does not overwhelm longer-term health issues.”
“The last Budget saw the largest cash injection into health in a decade which was a good first step but we need this Government, which has a very strong mandate, to build on that commitment and get stuck in.
“We need to fix the situation in which hundreds of thousands of New Zealanders are missing out on the health care they need because many hospitals are regularly running overcapacity and specialist services are completely overstretched,” Sarah Dalton says.
Better workforce planning is also a priority with an estimated 24% shortage of specialists across the country, and critical services such as mental health, oncology, and neurology among the worst affected.
The new ministers will also oversee the implementation of the Simpson Review. ASMS members are very concerned that if the number of DHBs is drastically reduced, a range of existing local initiatives will be swallowed up into a handful of large bureaucracies.
Sarah Dalton says ASMS looks forward to meeting and working positively with Mr Little and wishes him and his team well in their new roles.