How will New Zealand’s new health system look?

On 1 July, New Zealand’s health system will officially change (although there have already been many changes made already). Things won’t change overnight however – changes will occur slowly over time, with services running as usual while the system continues to be rolled out.

Health NZ and the Māori Health Authority

Health NZ (Hauora Aotearoa) will lead the day-to-day running of the system for the whole country. It will manage all health services, including hospital and specialist services, and primary and community care.

The Māori Health Authority will work alongside Health NZ to improve services and achieve equitable health outcomes for Māori. As well as setting policies for Māori health, it will directly commission/fund tailored health services for Māori.

The Ministry of Health will cease to exist in its current form. Its role will be to advise the Government on health policy, strategy, and regulation.

20 DHBs will be replaced by four regions

The country’s current DHBs will be replaced by four regions:

  • Northern: this includes Northland, Waitematā, Auckland and Counties Manukau regions.
  • Te Manawa Taki: this includes Waikato, Lakes, Bay of Plenty, Tairāwhiti, and Taranaki regions.
  • Central: this includes MidCentral, Whanganui, Capital & Coast/Hutt Valley, Hawke’s Bay, and Wairarapa regions.
  • Te Waipounamu: This includes Canterbury/West Coast, Nelson Marlborough, Southern, and South Canterbury regions.

Each region will work with their district offices, located closer to local communities, to develop and implement plans based on local needs to improve the health and wellbeing of communities.

Localities – what are they and how will they work?

One of the main reasons behind the health reforms is to improve the quality and consistency of care for all New Zealanders, doing away with what has been known as ‘postcode’ health (whereby the quality of health care is dictated by where someone lives) and giving people better health regardless of where they live. Waitematā DHB, for example, serves a population almost 20 times the size of the South Island West Coast DHB.

Creating localities based on population aims to help with this. The areas will be small enough to still have a local feel for the people that live there. Everyone in Aotearoa will fit into a locality that reflects their community. The exact geography of each locality will be decided by the community.

The first nine trial localities are:

  • Ōtara/Papatoetoe
  • Hauraki
  • Taupō/Tūrangi
  • Wairoa
  • Whanganui
  • Porirua
  • West Coast
  • Eastern Bay of Plenty
  • Horowhenua

People living in these nine areas will start to see changes over the next few months. By July 2024, there will be between 60 and 80 localities up and running.

Your day-to-day remains the same

These reforms won’t change who your GP/doctor is or your ability to be seen by a local specialist or go to a public hospital. The way private healthcare is provided and funded won’t change either and ACC entitlements should remain unaffected too.

While significant changes like this can be unsettling, we believe the new health system is good for all New Zealanders. Many people have told us that the current system isn’t working and it’s time for a change.

Photo by Pawel Czerwinski on Unsplash

About Mason Head

Content Creator and Publication Lead at Eldernet

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