Progress on second phase of localities

Substantial milestones were achieved in 2021 as the work programme to progress reform of Aotearoa New Zealand’s public health system gathers momentum.

Health Reform Transition Unit Director Stephen McKernan said 2022 will be a critical year that will lay the foundations for the country’s future health system.

“We have a large programme of work ahead of us before we transition over to the new system on 1 July,” Stephen said.

“While it’s exciting to look ahead at the transformational mahi to be done to deliver the reform programme, it is also important to pause and reflect on all that we achieved in 2021.

Achievements in 2021 included:

  • Drafting and supporting the introduction of the Pae Ora (Healthy Futures) Bill - the legislation underpinning the reform
  • Providing advice to Ministers on:
    • Detailed system design including accountabilities for the core national entities and of sub-system operating models, like public health, localities and hauora Māori
    • Future funding settings and investment priorities for the first few years of the new system
    • Implementation and transition to the new system operating model
    • How the Māori Health Authority can be accountable to Māori
    • Future regulatory programme for workforce policy, and advice on workforce functions in the new system
  • Establishing the two interim entities Health New Zealand and the Māori Health Authority, and supporting the appointment of Boards and interim Chief Executives to these entities, and supporting the Minister of Health to issue letters of expectation to the interim entities to provide direction for their establishment programmes
  • Supporting a large number of hui regarding functions and powers of the Māori Health Authority, and the future role and responsibility of Iwi-Māori Partnership Boards
  • Establishing workstreams to develop the interim New Zealand Health Plan and New Zealand Health Charter
  • Supporting the design of a consumer voice framework that will help health entities to meaningfully engage with people using the health system
  • Confirming the areas where the first locality prototypes are likely to be established
  • Hosting a national roadshow with 20 dedicated hui to engage with the health workforce, and undertaking hundreds of engagements with people in the sector and wider stakeholders
  • Transferring key workstreams from the Transition Unit to interim entities Health New Zealand and the Māori Health Authority.

Stephen said the focus was firmly on ensuring the transition to the new health system is undertaken with minimal disruption to the health workforce.

“In the coming months, Health New Zealand and the Māori Health Authority will be undertaking further work on the New Zealand Health Plan – this will help determine ‘what’ the sector will do – and continuing our work to develop a Health Charter to establish a shared vision and culture across the sector, or ‘how’ the sector will work,” Stephen said.

“Interim Health New Zealand and the interim Māori Health Authority will also confirm where we will prototype the localities approach to planning, commissioning and delivering health services.

“At the Transition Unit, our role will be to continue producing policy and design advice on key features of the future system, and we will also provide ongoing advice to Ministers on how the new entities are progressing the Government’s reform agenda.

“The Boards of the interim entities Health New Zealand and the Māori Health Authority are supporting the interim CEs and staff of each entity to secure the capacity and capability needed to develop their work plans and priorities ahead of 1 July.”