Woodhouse pushes health targets case

Michael Woodhouse
Michael Woodhouse
National health targets perform a valuable role and should be retained, National health spokesman Michael Woodhouse says.

Health Minister David Clark recently shelved national health targets, saying he wanted a new monitoring system with "honest and transparent reporting".

Dr Clark has said the previous regime created "perverse incentives" to pump up statistics for procedures being performed, at the expense of actual operations taking place.

Last week Mr Woodhouse entered draft legislation in the member’s Bill ballot, which if passed would see the Health Minister required to introduce no fewer than six and no more than 12 national health targets.

Each target would require a "clear and specific focus for action", and would be set after consultation and taking in to account service delivery and effectiveness.

"The targets over the past 12 years have been proxies for performance," Mr Woodhouse, a National list MP based in Dunedin, said.

"If you take emergency department waiting times, that required a system change and system improvement in order to get people through in a timely manner ... if you can get people in earlier you are going to make their outcomes better and you are going to improve the quality of services provided."

Mr Woodhouse said targets had ensured hospitals performed procedures on thousands of New Zealanders.

"If that’s a perverse incentive, I’ll take it any day — and in the case of emergency department waiting times, Waikato University research suggests hundreds of lives are saved every year."

Mr Woodhouse’s Bill has a slim chance of being drawn — there are 73 member’s Bills in the ballot, and up to three will be selected in the next drawing, expected to be  on Thursday.

Ian Powell, head of the senior doctors union the Association of Salaried Medical Specialists, said health targets would be clunky and heavy-handed.

"Targets are not a reliable assessment of how well a district health board is performing," he said.

"They can also be overly bureaucratic and impose rigid compliance costs and additional paperwork on busy health professionals and hospital managers."

mike.houlahan@odt.co.nz

Comments

What a wonderful wonderful idea Woody, why didn't National introduce this in in charge? Lets hope the victims of child abuse are one of the first to be included in the first 3 of the legislation by default and not past the sixth mark, so they are forgotten about.

 

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