Can you smell that?
That sour odour that comes with being spun something that is in no way for the public good, but for the good of the Government’s bare arse alone.
It’s wafting from the direction of Health Minister David Clark and his decision to stop the public reporting of National Health Targets, which aim to keep District Health Boards in line on a number of key measures.
Kirk makes a good point that the only person who benefits from scrapping the publishing of the health targets data is the Minister of Health.
They weren’t perfect – but there is hard evidence and medical research to show the ED target alone saved thousands of lives since its implementation. That is only a good thing.
New Zealand’s rates of childhood immunisations have reached nearly 95 per cent for babies aged eight months and two years – the magical “herd immunity” number, up from just over 80 per cent in 2010. Again, only a good thing.
The cancer target had improved wait times for cancer treatment, though patients were undoubtedly still falling through the cracks. We knew this, because we knew what standard was expected.
And that’s where the Government’s decision takes away power from patients. People who had not received their first cancer treatment within a month knew that was not acceptable, and they knew when to start demanding answers of their clinicians.
It was a public commitment from the Government that cancer patients should never have to wait more than a month, ED patients no more than six hours etc.
David Clark’s entire decision appears to be resting on a single claim of “perverse incentives”, for which he uses a single uncited news story published last year, that claimed avastin eye injections for macular degeneration, and skin lesion removals, were being used to bump up surgical stats at the expense of more complex, and typically more urgent, elective surgeries like hip and knee replacements.
One uncited story with no proof.
So refine the target. Fix that issue – direct those procedures be performed at primary and secondary level – if that is indeed the issue he has.
Yep, easy to do.
These targets did not always paint a glowing picture of DHBs and where there was an issue, the Government had to answer to it.
That’s where the targets become a stick with which to beat the Government over the head with, and Clark has taken the stick away.
They allowed the public to hold the Government accountable.