Annette being sensible

The Herald reports:

New Zealand ranks well down on the OECD’s list of countries with the most hospital beds, but officials say it’s nothing to be concerned about.

Meanwhile, the Health Ministry has extended its free flu immunisation programme until the end of August due to the season’s expected late peak.

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) figures show New Zealand languishing at just 2.8 beds per 1000 people – the same as Ireland and United Kingdom – but well below leaders Japan, on 13.4, Korea, 10.3; Germany 8.3 and Australia 3.8.

But Labour’s health spokeswoman Annette King said while it could look concerning, it was also a positive. “The number of beds in hospitals has been decreasing over the years because … as technology and techniques have changed, the length of stay in hospital is reduced hugely. So the number [of beds] you need is reduced and so much more is done in the home.”

Yep. Number of beds is not a measure of healthcare.

Ministry of Health chief medical officer Don Mackie said hospital beds per capita was not a measure that by itself told people a lot about the quality of healthcare.

“Like many other comparable developed countries, New Zealand is moving to the modern trend of shorter in-patient stays and greater emphasis on care closer to home.

The number of beds is an input, not even an output let alone an outcome. We should focus on improving outcomes, not on whether we have more beds than the UK per capita.

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