Health alliances are nine networks of primary health care providers and district health boards that are implementing the Government’s ‘Better, Sooner, More Convenient’ care initiatives. These initiatives will provide services closer to home, make New Zealanders healthier and reduce pressure on hospitals.
Improved primary health care involves doctors, nurses, pharmacists and other health professionals working together having access to specialist diagnostic testing, working in teams combining different disciplines, and playing a more proactive role in managing chronic conditions, avoiding illness and providing some safe appropriate services traditionally delivered in hospitals. These types of improvements include:
- the development of co-located, multi-disciplinary primary-health-care provision through integrated family health centres
- the ability for the public to access a wider range of services in their communities including, for example, specialist assessments and procedures by GPs with special interest, diagnostics, minor surgery and observation beds
- greater patient choice and convenience, including extended opening hours, walk-in access, and greater use of email or phone consultations
- empowering people to manage their conditions and supporting self care through increased coordination of services for people with chronic conditions
- more collaborative working relationships between a wide range of health professionals and other social services
- enabling access to more treatment and diagnostic services for primary health care professionals
- increased clinical governance and leadership
- incorporating Whanau Ora approaches where appropriate.
Nine health alliances that cover 60 percent of New Zealand’s population began implementing these improvements from 1 July 2010. Similar initiatives are taking place in local areas independent of the nine health alliances.