It is early days on what health reforms will mean for Nelson.

Tasman after Labour’s Health Minister Andrew Little said a central authority ‘Health New Zealand’ will replace all District Health Boards in the near future.  Nelson MP Rachel Boyack welcomes the changes saying doctors, nurses and other health workers can concentrate on patients instead of battling bureaucracy.

“The major reform will also do away with the postcode lottery that means people in some parts of the country receive different levels of care as opposed to those in other areas,” says Rachel.

However, List MP Nick Smith says the “the radical centralisation of health services will be bad for Nelson and Tasman.”

He says Nelson has run its own hospital for over 150 years and this loss of control, just like the loss of control of our Polytech, will make it harder to meet local needs and hold services accountable.

“I’ve dealt with 100s of cases where care isn’t what it should be, and as a local MP have been able to ring and get it sorted. There is no chance of speaking to someone in a centralised service,” he says.

Currently each DHB has targets to meet, such as 90 per cent faster cancer treatment. Nelson Marlborough’s DHB has exceeded that target, while Northland’s DHB was sitting at only 61 per cent at the end of last year.

Nelson Marlborough Health’s chief executive, Lexie O’Shea, said earlier this year that Nelson Marlborough Health had achieved 110 per cent of the Government’s targets for elective surgery.

Lexie says the local leadership team has supported the intentions behind the reform from the start.

“What matters most is that people in our region receive the best possible care and support, and that this is offered equitably,” she says.

She acknowledges that people in the community may have a lot of questions about the reform but that many of these can not be answered at present.

Earlier this year, Lexie said two of her major focuses were better outcomes for the vulnerable in the community and locals avoiding hospitalisation unless necessary. These are in line with comments Andrew Little made in giving reasons for the reform.

“We’ll treat people before they get sick so they don’t need hospital care, taking pressure off hospitals,” says Andrew.

A new Maori health authority will be formed alongside Health New Zealand.

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