3 May 2020

Caution advised after calls to release Health and Disability System Review

5:42 pm on 3 May 2020

Senior medical specialists want a makeover of a major review of the country's health system.

Health professionals have been warning the health system is desperately stretched.

Photo: 123rf

The Health and Disability System Review was due out in March but the pandemic has held that up.

The Medical Association earlier this week called for its immediate release.

But the Association of Salaried Medical Specialists executive director Sarah Dalton says the opposite.

"It would be ill-considered to put it out now without paying attention to the things that it (the pandemic) has thrown up," Dalton said.

"Plus, we would like to see the things we've learnt particularly around public health capacity and the importance of prevention and preparedness, being taken into account before we do anything with the review.

"Experts, citing the Global Health Security Index, have come out this week saying New Zealand was ill-prepared for a pandemic, and ... the Prime Minister rightly agreed that we need to rebuild our health system and particularly the investment in public health."

That was even more important given the review chaired by Heather Simpson was meant to be "big picture", Dalton said.

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Its terms of reference also prevented it looking into health funding, so the review was only ever going to be a partial response and needed revisiting, she added.

The Simpson review was due out alongside the government's first-ever national stocktake of public health assets.

The stocktake was partially released to RNZ in March.

Finalisation of the stocktake's second part has been held up by diversion of resources to the pandemic response.

The stocktake is the first step towards a national asset management plan for spending billions of dollars over the next decade to upgrade or replace the country's many old, cramped and sometimes dangerous hospital buildings.

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