Yesterday, Tony Ryall announced he is tinkering with his narrow and simplistic health targets. The changes in of themselves are positive but the targets are flawed. Even the Medical Association thinks so.
Association chairman Paul Ockelford said the health targets were commendable, but the emphasis on targets was flawed.
The targets needed to work alongside other approaches, such as housing and education, that influenced people’s health.
“If these are not addressed we will continue to have glaring health disparities in our communities and a high prevalence of preventable diseases that affect not only quality of life, but life expectancy,” Dr Ockelford said.
The targets were “narrow and simplistic”.
“They do not give a full picture of how our health system is performing because of the difficulty of linking these targets to information about patient and public health outcomes.”
The real challenges for our health system are the projected increasing cost of delivering healthcare and the increasing prevalence of preventable diseases such as diabetes and heart disease as well as depression and anxiety disorders.
Tackling both of these requires that a much greater emphasis be placed on keeping people well and preventing the need for costly treatments. This is desperately lacking in National’ approach to health.
To me, two of the most glaring omissions from National’s priorities are mental health and chronic disease management. The lack of resources to respond to people with low acuity need in these areas means they end up with much bigger problems than necessary and the taxpayer foots a much bigger bill than we ought.
Tony Ryall will enthusiastically point to short term output data that my look impressive now, but what is his strategy doing to improve long term health outcomes for our nation?