19 Sep 2013

Close watch on Maori health providers

11:50 am on 19 September 2013

A new study proves there's a culture of keeping Maori Health Providers under the microscope, the general manager of the Maraeroa Marae Health Clinic in Porirua says.

A study by Auckland University of Technology lecturer Heather Came found Maori health providers have the shortest contracts, are audited and monitored more and have less access to funding compared to other providers.

Dr Came says two thirds of those surveyed ran on one-year contracts, while 50% of Public Health Organisation contracts had no end date.

Maori providers were also audited more and rarely received top up payments, says Dr Came.

Maraeroa Clinic general manager Missy McLean says the clinic has been running on annual contracts for the past 18 years, and the study only confirms what she sees happening.

Discrimination prevents Maori providers from planning ahead and developing initiatives to help Maori health improve, she says.

Whakaue Research Centre for Maori Development director Amohia Boulton says the Crown contracting system for health providers does not suit Maori providers, who face extra accountabilities to iwi and whanau that are not recognised by the Crown.

As well, Maori health providers often have to manage tensions between the Crown and the community, she says.

The Ministry of Health would not be interviewed but in a statement said it recognises that Maori health providers have an important role to play in reducing disparities and improving Maori health outcomes.

Director-general of maori health Teresa Wall says investment in Maori health providers has increased from $224 million in 2007/08 to $273 million in 2011/12, an increase of 22%.

She says contract lengths vary and auditing is done more frequently when there is an issue of concern with the organisation.