Review cuts DHB numbers

The final report on the government’s long-awaited Health and Disability System Review confirmed New Zealand’s health services and workforce are under considerable stress and the health system is complex and fragmented.


Though our system is better than many, the review sets out a path towards a better, more sustainable health system with clear lines of accountability, said health minister Dr David Clark. “One that is more responsive to the needs of local communities and that better tailors services to the way that people live their lives… particularly when it comes to improving health outcomes for those most in need, including Māori, Pacific people, the disabled and rural communities.”


Chaired by health economist Heather Simpson, the review’s recommendations include:


  • Shifting to a greater focus on population health
  • Creating a new crown entity, provisionally called Health NZ, focused on operational delivery of health and disability services and financial performance
  • Reducing the number of district health boards from 20 to 8-12 within five years, and moving to fully appointed boards
  • Creating a Māori Health Authority to advise on all aspects of Māori Health policy and to monitor and report on system performance with respect to Māori
  • Greater integration between primary and community care and hospital/specialist services


Cabinet has accepted the case for reform and the direction outlined in the review, said Dr Clark. The prime minister will drive the changes, supported by her finance and health ministers. A special ministerial committee will also be appointed to provide advice, he said. “Make no mistake, reforming our health and disability system is a massive undertaking and will not happen overnight. Meaningful change and improvement will take concerted effort over many years.”


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