What we do
The Ministry of Health leads New Zealand’s health and disability system, and has overall responsibility for the management and development of that system.
Purpose and role
The Ministry of Health seeks to improve, promote and protect the health of New Zealanders through:
- its sector leadership of New Zealand’s health and disability system
- by advising the Minister of Health, and government as a whole, on health issues
- directly purchasing a range of important national health and disability support services
- providing health sector information and payment services for the benefit of all New Zealanders.
The Ministry of Health leads the health and disability system, and has overall responsibility for the management and development of that system. It steers the system improvements that help New Zealanders live longer, healthier and more independent lives.
The Ministry ensures that the health system is delivering on Government’s priorities and that health sector organisations are well governed and soundly managed from a financial perspective. To do this, the Ministry:
- funds, monitors and drives the performance improvements of health sector Crown entities including district health boards (DHBs)
- supports the planning and accountability functions of health sector Crown entities including DHBs
- regulates the sector and ensures legislative requirements are being met.
Health policy choices are complex and challenging, and the Ministry has a responsibility to provide clear and practical advice to the Minister of Health and Associate Ministers, supported by strong analysis of the issues.
The Ministry also provides expert clinical and technical advice to Ministers and the health sector. Some Ministry functions (such as those that rest with the Director of Public Health) include clinical decision-making or statutory responsibilities.
Buying health and disability services
The Ministry is a funder, purchaser and regulator of national health and disability services, on behalf of the Crown. These services include:
- public health interventions (such as immunisation or dealing with outbreaks of disease)
- disability support services
- screening services (such as cervical screening)
- maternity services
- ambulance services.
Information and payments
The Ministry provides key infrastructure support to the health and disability system, especially through:
- the provision of national information systems
- a payments service to the health and disability sector.
The health and disability system
Health services are delivered by a dynamic network of organisations and people. Each has their particular role, and works with others across the system to achieve better health, wellbeing and independence for New Zealanders. The Ministry provides leadership to the health and disability system, and works within the system to achieve the Government’s health objectives (see Figure 1).
District health boards (DHBs) administer and deliver most health services and as such are responsible for a large proportion of the funding of the health and disability system. They plan, manage, provide and purchase health services for the population of their district, to ensure effective and efficient services for all of New Zealand. DHBs oversee funding for primary care (such as general practitioners, practice nurses, pharmacists and community health centres), hospital services, public health services – aged care services and services provided by non-government health providers, including Māori and Pacific providers.
New Zealand’s health and disability system also comprises primary health organisations (PHOs),1 public health units (PHUs),2 private non-governmental providers, Māori and Pacific providers and independent general practitioners (GPs). It includes professional and regulatory bodies for all health professionals, including medical and surgical specialties, nurses and allied health groups. Many non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and consumer bodies provide services and advocate for the interests of various groups, alongside more formal advocacy and inquiry boards, committees and entities.
In recent years, the Ministry has been working closely with other health agencies to generate constant improvements in the health and disability system.
Health system funding
The health system’s funding comes mainly from Vote Health, totalling just over $14.655 billion in 2013/14. Other significant funding sources include other government agencies (most notably Accident Compensation Corporation – ACC), local government, and private sources such as insurance and out-of-pocket payments.
The Ministry of Health allocates more than three-quarters of the public funds it manages through Vote Health to DHBs, who use this funding to plan, purchase and provide health services, including public hospitals and the majority of public health services, within their areas.
Most of the remaining public funding provided to the Ministry (approximately 19 percent) is used to fund important national services, such as disability support services, public health services, specific screening programmes, mental health services, elective services, Well Child and primary maternity services, Māori health services and postgraduate clinical education and training. In 2013/14, the Ministry will directly purchase $2.84 billion worth of health and disability services.
About 1.3 percent (about $191 million in 2013/14) of Vote Health funding is spent on running the Ministry which supports the wider health sector.
1 Primary health organisations are not-for-profit community-based health care providers, including GPs, nurses and other providers.
2 Public health units concentrate on major public health services, such as tobacco control and health promotion.