Director-General of Health’s foreword

The updated New Zealand Health Strategy sets the direction New Zealand’s health and disability system needs to take into the future.

Photo of Chai Chuah. There is general agreement that the challenges we face are complex. But there is also a confidence that we can work together to address these, using the very real strengths of our system and the experience and skills that we bring to  our roles.

This strategy emphasises the need for integration of our framework, methodology and approach, as well as coherence so that we are all clear on the role we each have to play in making our desired future a reality.

The Ministry of Health conducted an extensive consultation process that has allowed us to develop a clear picture of the future that reflects who we are as New Zealanders, and has been important in helping set the direction of where we want to go in health. The future picture is underpinned by guiding principles for how we wish to work together. These give colour to the kinds of values, behaviour and culture that will be important to achieving a change in the health system.

The public engagement helped us to identify and confirm five strategic themes for the Strategy. A Roadmap of Actions brings these strategic themes to life, proposing an evolution of change to realign our operating model, encourage innovation and ensure sustainability.

I would like to acknowledge the input to this strategy from a vast array of people: those who attended public meetings and the online forum; those who made submissions; the many from throughout the sector who met with or advised us; and officials and professionals from other sectors who made the links and are keen to stay engaged. Thank you for contributing. I also thank the many Ministry of Health staff and advisors who contributed to the Strategy’s development for their hard work and acknowledge the passionate leadership of the late Don Gray through the formative stages of this strategy.

I recognise that the way forward will require us all to think and act differently. For the Ministry of Health, that means we need to clarify our leadership role in the system, how we interact with others and how we focus our efforts to make improvements in the system.

There are leadership roles throughout the system but the Ministry’s role includes being a system steward. This involves keeping an overview of the whole system and ensuring that the capabilities and connections across organisations add up to  a strong system that is more than the sum of its parts. The Ministry commenced changing in 2015 to help guide our staff to a new way of working and to build our capability so we can do our part in enabling the journey.

I am confident that, together with other leaders in the system, we can bring about the necessary changes to make the future envisaged in this strategy into a reality and achieve even better health outcomes for all New Zealanders.

Chai Chuah
Director-General of Health Ministry of Health

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