The targets that have underpinned improvements in New Zealanders’ health over the past twelve years could become an enduring part of our health system if a Members’ Bill introduced to the ballot becomes law, National’s Health spokesperson Michael Woodhouse says.
“The Government’s cancellation of the nationwide health targets will cost lives. This is simply not acceptable to National which is why we have introduced a Bill to the Members’ Bill ballot to introduce a set of reported targets, similar to those axed by the Government.
“These targets were originally established by the Clark Government in 2007 and represented important priorities from the Government to provide focus and accountability. They drove improvements in areas of the health sector that were important to the public.
“This Government clearly does not value the improvements and accountability that come from the targets and the Minister of Health has cynically axed them.
“Tremendous gains were achieved when they were set and performance against them was published. These targets had clear and significant benefits. Research indicates that 700 lives per year have been saved by the target to shorten stays in Emergency Departments.
“Childhood immunisation rates have risen from 67 per cent to 92 per cent, cancer treatment waiting times are now at world best standards and people no longer have to travel to Australia for basic treatment – as was the case under the previous Labour Government - and tens of thousands of extra elective surgeries were performed.
“We believe in the success of these targets and want to ensure they continue. My Bill requires the Minister of Health to set between 6 and 12 targets after consulting with stakeholders and periodic public reporting progress in achieving the targets, including an explanation for non-achievement.
“I urge Government parties to support this Bill, especially the Labour Party, given many of the Bill’s provisions are modelled on the Prime Minister’s Child Poverty Reduction Bill.
“This is a Bill which also places a high value on the importance of setting and achieving targets. I hope the Prime Minister will be consistent in seeing the same merit in my Bill and support it into law.”