Health reforms: hostile reception of Andrew Little from general practitioners at the Wellington conference
Health Minister Andrew Little revealed the next step in his healthcare reforms in a speech today to a conference of general practitioners. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Health Minister Andrew Little today faced tough questions from general practitioners, whom he then greeted, telling reporters he was “not there to get licked up and down”.
In a speech to the General Practitioners Conference in Wellington, Little revealed 12 health indicators that will be used to monitor the performance of the health system once it moves to a new national system, with a number of DHBs being removed. .
They included immunization rates for children at 24 months, those under 25 accessing specialized mental health services within three weeks of referral, and sensitive outpatient hospitalizations for adults aged 45-64 and patients. children aged 0 to 4 years old.
The aim is to see where the system should be improved, followed by a local consultation to target improvements in order to shift funding to primary care, rather than to hospital emergency departments.
But the audience was ruthless and even laughed when Little mentioned the mental health indicator in an apparent critique of the government’s inability to make meaningful improvements in this area.
“We’re not trying to measure things that we think we already have. We’re trying to measure things that actually tell us if the system is working,” Little said afterwards, when asked about laughter.
Questions from the room were also very critical, prompting Little to say afterwards, “I don’t come here to be licked up and down. I come here to interact with people. If I am not told, how can I and the government respond correctly? “
Rose, a general practitioner in Hawera, told Little she was one of two general practitioners covering 20,000 patients and pleaded with Little to make fruits and vegetables free and to tax sugar to prevent the crisis from worsening. diabetes.
Little thanked her for her advice, later saying that nutrition policy work was underway and there would be more to say next year.
He then told West Auckland GP Deb that pay equity for primary care nurses would follow the conclusion of negotiations with hospital nurses.
This would set the benchmark for the level of pay for other nurses, he said, which could be in place in about two years.
“Two years! Yeah!” was Deb’s sarcastic response.
A general practitioner in Porirua then asked Little “what dose of laxative” he planned to administer to Immigration Minister Kris Faafoi to sort out visa issues for foreign-trained general practitioners in New Zealand, including the future is pending as an expression of interest in the residency. are frozen.
Little replied that he was in active discussion with Faafoi on this matter.
Retired GP David Hill, of Palmerston North, told Little that the indicators he advertised looked at the wrong thing and that poverty was what made people sick enough to see a GP – or to go. in hospital if they could not afford a visit to a general practitioner.
Little spoke about the lifting of benefit rates in the 2021 budget, but Hill retorted, “I hear it but I don’t see any change… you are betraying New Zealanders. You are failing people who live in poverty.”
Little later said the health care system had been “under the hammer” even before the pandemic.
“There was frustration. Of course there was. And with the aging of the GP workforce, more retirement, they are struggling to fill vacancies. They have more. patients who present with more complicated conditions. That’s the reality of the system right now. “
But he rejected comments that the government was not addressing the drivers of poor health outcomes.
“We will have some important political announcements to make as we start with the new system in July of next year. Nutrition is one of them. It is a factor in poor health.
“We have to work on practical, sensible things that are going to make a real difference. We are working on it now.”
The crowd reception at chief health officer Ashley Bloomfield, whose address was after Little, could not have been more different.
A GP in the audience, during questions from the room, thanked Bloomfield for possibly saving his life, and his question was to ask for a selfie.