Foreword: Minister of Health
I am pleased to present the Ministry of Health’s (the Ministry’s) Statement of Intent for 2008–11. This document is a key accountability document between myself and the Ministry. It outlines the key areas that I expect the Ministry to lead and also specifies how its own activities contribute to outcomes relevant to the health and disability sector.
Since becoming Minister of Health (the Minister) in November 2007 I have observed that the health and disability sector consistently performs at a very high level. It is internationally recognised as a system that provides high quality, trusted services that are delivered in a cost-effective manner that makes it the envy of other countries. The system has a hard working and dedicated workforce of which we can be justifiably proud.
In spite of these strengths we must continually strive for improvements in services in order to achieve our goals of improving health and independence for all New Zealanders. This Statement of Intent highlights a stronger role for the Ministry in ensuring that the strengths of a semi devolved system are maximised in a way that focuses improvements in care and services.
Key to the improvements are:
- Continued emphasis upon realising the potential of ongoing improvements in preventive and primary care, with a strong focus on management of key disease groups and the social determinants of health that impact them, and a parallel focus on key population groups with particular needs such as Maori and Pacific New Zealanders, our children, young people and our senior citizens.
Strengthening health services we can trust through:
- a greater focus upon collaboration at local, regional and national levels. A country of four million people spread over a significant geographical area needs a health and disability support system that has collaborative working at its heart. Closer relationships will make innovative solutions possible, resulting in a more cohesive and efficient system, with fewer barriers to success
- taking forward the quality agenda to ensure services are as safe and effective as they can be. Continuous improvement in quality and safety is vital as it underpins all that we do, has a real impact on the public’s trust and confidence in the health and disability system, and on achieving satisfactory health and disability support outcomes. The health and disability system needs to be consistently better at measuring quality, as well as benchmarking against proven standards to reduce inappropriate variation.
- Taking a strategic approach to further developing the key enablers of a strong public health system for the longer term, including workforce development, information technology and communications, and ensuring that our capital development programme is optimally configured towards our long term needs.
The Ministry’s work programme reflects these three areas and I expect it to show leadership in each of them. To this end I wish to empower the Ministry to play a stronger leadership role across the sector and I will, as appropriate, hold it accountable for sector-wide results. This will complement existing statutory responsibilities for individual DHBs who are accountable directly to the Minister of Health under the New Zealand Public Health and Disability Act 2000. This is a significant difference in focus to previous Statements of Intent and reflects my belief that we need to effectively combine the strength of locally accountable and run DHBs with strong leadership from the centre.
Making gains in these areas will assist in progress around the six priority areas I have set for the health and disability sector. While these priority areas remain the same as in previous years I have signalled a number of changes in emphasis. The Statement of Intent explains why this work is important, and how it will help to improve health and disability services and outcomes.
Accordingly, the priority areas where I believe concerted action needs to be placed, are as follows.
Taking public and primary health care to the next level:
- Getting ahead of the chronic disease burden (including by investing in wellness and its determinants)
- Driving forward the Primary Health Care Strategy
- Investing in the early years and youth potential
- Caring for older New Zealanders.
Strengthening health services we can trust:
- achieving value for money
- actioning the agenda for quality
- strengthening regional and national collaboration among DHBs.
Enabling a strong, sustainable health sector for the longer term:
- strategically developing the health sector workforce
- building seamless health information and communication systems
- optimising capital infrastructure development.
Overall, I expect to see faster performance improvement by the health and disability sector across all the priority areas. The Ministry has a key role in leading and providing effective support to DHBs to achieve these improvements, and assessing the level of achievement through monitoring of the Health Targets. The Ministry also has an obligation to rigorously apply the monitoring-intervention framework where DHBs do not perform to the agreed level.
The priorities I have set are consistent with the directions set by the sector’s overarching strategies. The New Zealand Public Health and Disability Act 2000 requires the New Zealand Health Strategy and the New Zealand Disability Strategy to provide the framework for the health and disability sector’s overall direction.
Hon David Cunliffe
Minister of Health