The New Zealand Health Strategy published by the Minister of Health in December 2000 identifies seven principles that are to be reflected across the health sector. These include the requirement for a ‘high performing system in which people have confidence ’ and ‘active involvement by consumers and communities at all levels ’.
These principles identify two important developments in the New Zealand health sector. The first is the need for District Health Boards to be accountable for the quality of services they fund and/or provide. The second is the need to improve public confidence in the service provided through better information, and in some cases, direct involvement in the monitoring of service quality.
The publication of a framework for credentialling that identifies ‘organisational ’scope of practice is timely. It helps to address the requirements of the New Zealand Health Strategy and it complements the developing Health Professionals Competency Assurance Bill, which will enable professional bodies to describe a ‘professional ’scope of practice for a practitioner on registration.
A national credentialling framework for senior medical officers is an important milestone on our journey toward clinical excellence for all health professionals and has international significance. Developing partnerships between clinicians and managers for local solutions to implement this framework will be key to our success. This will require the support of other stakeholders groups identified in this document, such as professional groups, the public and central agencies, to ensure we achieve the main purpose of credentialling – to improve health outcomes for patients.