Herald calls on Government to reverse decision on health targets

The Herald editorial:

Health Minister David Clark said the targets – for things such as waiting times for emergency attention, elective surgery and cancer treatment – had “perverse outcomes”, meaning poorer health overall.

Perverse outcomes? Independent research concludes thousands of lives were saved due to the ED six hour waiting time target. How is achieving 95% immunization rates a perverse oucome? Do cancer patients think getting treatment within four weeks is a perverse outcome?

The next day the minister retreated somewhat, saying the performance data would still be collected but it would no longer be published. That is a cop-out. Targets have to be published to have their desired effect. They impose a discipline on ministers and their departments to produce results, but only if the Government has to answer to the public if the targets are not reached.

I predict the Government will eventually back down. Apart from anything else am sure media will OIA the information, so it will get released eventually anyway.

A great deal of taxpayers’ money is poured into the public health system every year, $17 billion this year. It is very hard for governments, let alone the public, to know whether it is being used for as many operations and other services as it could possibly provide. Targets provide a check on whether we are getting as much value for that money as the Government had reasonably expected.

It’s called accountability.

Dr Powell’s Association of Salaried Medical Specialists probably want the only measure of their services to be the amount of money put into them. Politicians are much the same. It is easier for them to trumpet an increase in funding than to produce desired results. 

Very astute. The interests of the union and of politicians is not the public interest.

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