27 Sep 2020

Short consultation times a barrier for Māori health equity

10:57 am on 27 September 2020

A report into health equity shows short consultation times with doctors can leave Māori patients feeling disempowered and unable to make decisions about their own care.

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File photo. Photo: Photo /123RF

The Medical Council - in partnership with Te Ohu Rata O Aotearoa - looked at how Māori patients and whanau experienced the health system.

They also looked at what it was like for Māori doctors as a minority in the profession.

Medical Council chair Curtis Walker said it was the first step in a long journey to remove structual barriers preventing Māori from equitable healthcare.

He said it was important that doctors coming out of medical schools were "well-versed in culturally safe practices and health equity".

"I have to say that increasingly, those doctors coming out of medical school these days are very well educated, and increasingly those doctors are Māori and Pasifika and rural and other community groups which have been underrepresented in the medical profession," he said. "So making sure we get our medical workforce as a mirror on society."

He said short consultation times make it hard to develop relationships with patients and mean doctors can only focus on the most pressing health concerns.

"It limits how doctors can form good relationships with Māori patients and whanau," he said. "And that can also lead to Māori patients feeling disempowered, that their knowledge is underestimated."

Walker said if Māori were not fully informed and involved in their care, it could become unsafe.

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