The conventional wisdom is that Tony Ryall is making a good fist of the Health portfolio. Now that I am up close in the area I can say that he keeps a tight rein on matters health, and is managing the portfolio effectively.
I’m trying to recall the last time an Opposition Spokesperson said the Minister is managing the portfolio effectively. Good on Grant though for acknowledging the reality. Of course he has a criticism:
But there is a big difference between managing the politics of health and actually doing what is right for the long term health outcomes of New Zealanders.
So what does Grant mean by this:
The best evidence of that is the release today of the Child Health Monitor Report. It shows, among other things, that in the last two years there have been an additional 5 000 avoidable hospital admissions for things like respiratory illness and skin infections. The authors of the report note that the cost of going to the doctor, especially after hours is a factor in whether children are getting the healthcare they need, along with a range factors associated with child poverty.
I am not saying all of this is down to the Health policy of the current government. But the focus on the narrow range of health targets set by the Minister means that child health is not the priority it should be. The Minister has narrowed the health targets in such a way as to scratch the itches of waiting lists and time spent in ED, but it is at the expense of early intervention and public health programmes.
So what are these itches that Grant refers to? An itch suggests something that isn’t that important, but is noticeable. Well the six targets are:
- Shorter Stays in Emergency Departments
- Improved Access to Elective Surgery
- Shorter Waits for Cancer Treatment Radiotherapy
- Increased Immunisation
- Better Help for Smokers to Quit
- Better Diabetes and Cardiovascular Services
Now it might just be me, but I doubt many people would regard shorter waiting times for cancer treatment as just scratching an itch, or having more people get elective surgey or having shorter waits in ED Departments.Tags: Grant Robertson, Health