Overview of the health system

Health and disability services in New Zealand are delivered by a complex network of organisations and people. Each has their role in working with others across the system to achieve better health for New Zealanders.

A complex system, working together

The Minister of Health (with Cabinet and the government) develops policy for the health and disability sector and provides leadership. The Minister is supported by the Ministry of Health and its business units, and advised by the Ministry, the National Health Board, Health Workforce New Zealand, the National Health Committee, and other ministerial advisory committees.

Most of the day-to-day business of the system, and around three quarters of the funding, is administered by district health boards (DHBs). DHBs plan, manage, provide and purchase health services for the population of their district to ensure services are arranged effectively and efficiently for all of New Zealand. This includes funding for primary care, hospital services, public health services, aged care services, and services provided by other non-government health providers including Māori and Pacific providers.

Diagram illustrating the structure of the health and disability sector in more detail.

Structure of the health and disability sector

Important roles in providing services and ensuring efficiency and quality are undertaken by public health units, primary health organisations, non-government organisations, Crown entities, health professionals, and professional and regulatory bodies for all health professionals – including all medical and surgical specialist areas, nurses and allied health groups.

There is a range of educational and research institutions involved in the provision of services and training of the workforce. There are also many consumer bodies and non-government organisations that provide services and advocacy for the interests of different groups, and more formal advocacy and inquiry boards, committees and entities.

The Ministry of Health has a range of roles in the system in addition to being the principal advisor and support to the Minister. It funds a range of national services, including disability support and public health services, and has a number of regulatory functions.

Accident services are funded by the Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC).

This network of organisations is linked through a series of funding and accountability arrangements to ensure performance and service delivery across the health and disability system.

In this section

  • New Zealand’s health and disability system is mainly funded from general taxation. Read more
  • Learn about the legislation that sets out the health and disability system’s statutory framework. Read more
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