New Zealand’s health system is good by international standards but we need to continue to adapt and find new ways of working. By doing so, we can make sure we are doing our best for the health and wellbeing of New Zealanders into the future.

Like many other health systems around the world, our system faces the challenges of an ageing population and a growing burden of long-term conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes and mental health conditions, and issues such as obesity that lead to long-term health problems.

The Government expects the public health system to continue to focus on delivering high-quality health services, improving performance where it matters most.

It also wants to tackle priority issues that have a wider impact, such as housing quality and the wellbeing of children. The health system already contributes strongly to improving these issues. Stronger partnerships and changing approaches will allow us to do even more.

The New Zealand Health Strategy (the Strategy) has been developed to guide change in the system. Over the longer term, the Strategy’s implementation will lead to a health system with a new way of working to support the health and wellbeing of New Zealanders.

The Strategy has two parts:1

  • The New Zealand Health Strategy: Future Direction (companion document) outlines the high-level direction for New Zealand’s health system over the 10 years from 2016 to 2026. It lays out some of the challenges and opportunities the system faces; describes the future we want, including the culture and values that will underpin this future; and identifies five strategic themes for the changes that will take us toward this future.
  • The New Zealand Health Strategy: Roadmap of actions 2016 (this document) identifies 27 areas for action over five years to make the Strategy happen.

The areas of work set out in this roadmap will have a critical role in driving change. In some cases, this is because they have a system-wide impact; in others, it’s because they prompt further action by modelling or unlocking the particular change required. Some areas address issues that are a priority for the Government. In this case, this roadmap underlines what we need to do to reach Government goals.

The work areas in this roadmap are not all new. Most are, to varying degrees, already part of programmes of work at the Ministry of Health and in district health boards (DHBs), in other Crown entities and across the system.

Their presence in this roadmap signals that they are important for the future of New Zealand’s health system. It also reflects our expectation that we will focus on them collectively to achieve positive change.

The Strategy includes eight principles that reflect the values of New Zealanders and their expectations of the system (see Refreshed guiding principles for the system). These principles apply also to this roadmap and have relevance across all the themes and to many of the actions. The Strategy principles can be used to guide decisions; for example, about how services could be redesigned, who should be involved and what outcomes to expect.

For example, the principle that acknowledges the Treaty of Waitangi should guide the design of training for health workers and board members to ensure they have appropriate knowledge about the Treaty, what it means for the participation of Māori in the health system, partnership approaches to services and the need to improve the health status of Māori.

  • Section A of this roadmap describes action areas under each of the five themes of the Strategy (see the diagram below).
  • Section B of this roadmap outlines how the Strategy will be put into action. It also covers the ongoing work to update this roadmap each year.

Five strategic themes of the strategy

The central theme is all New Zealanders live well, stay well and get well. The five themes around this are people-powered, closer to home, value and high performance, one team and smart system.

Refreshed guiding principles for the system

  1. Acknowledging the special relationship between Māori and the Crown under the Treaty of Waitangi
  2. The best health and wellbeing possible for all New Zealanders throughout their lives
  3. An improvement in health status of those currently disadvantaged
  4. Collaborative health promotion, rehabilitation and disease and injury prevention by all sectors
  5. Timely and equitable access for all New Zealanders to a comprehensive range of health and disability services, regardless of ability to pay
  6. A high-performing system in which people have confidence
  7. Active partnership with people and communities at all levels
  8. Thinking beyond narrow definitions of health and collaborating with others to achieve wellbeing
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