The director-general of health is foreshadowing a greater investment in elective or non-urgent surgery under the new National-led Government.
Stephen McKernan also told senior doctors at their annual conference in Wellington on Thursday there will be faster action on workforce issues in the future.
Mr McKernan said New Zealand compares well with other countries in terms of health gains for money spent on the sector.
However, he said challenges include reducing the variations between district health boards, managing the unequal population growth around the country and dealing with chronic disease.
Mr McKernan said the Government is going to invest more in having more elective procedures done, but people will still need to be prioritised for services.
He said there is work under way to assess future workforce pressures and needs, and in future there will be more rapid attention to workforce issues.