12 Mar 2021

Medical bodies back an independent Māori health authority

2:32 pm on 12 March 2021

The senior doctors' union and the New Zealand Medical Association have thrown their support behind an independent Māori health authority, saying setting it up should be front and centre for government.

A vaccinator prepares one of New Zealand's first Covid-19 vaccinations on 19 February.

The Simpson Report called for an authority designed and lead by Māori with power to commission health services. Photo: Supplied / Ministry of Health

Establishing an authority was a key recommendation put forward in the Simpson Review last year, however the authors of the report could not come to a consensus on how much power such an authority should have.

That has still not been decided.

Association of Salaried Medical Specialists executive director Sarah Dalton said both organisations supported an entity with the powers to create, commission and fund structures and services for Māori.

"It is long past time, we have Treaty obligations and we have heaps and heaps of data that shows the health system is not serving the whole of New Zealand's population equitably, that lots of people are missing out and lots of those people are Māori."

The Simpson Report contained a view, that the Māori health authority's scope and budget was too small. It called for an authority designed and lead by Māori with power to commission health services.

Dalton said that was the view the two organisations supported.

"I'm a little bit surprised that the Simpson review didn't go with what's become known as the 'alternative view' as the preferred view."

"I think it was great that at least that debate was made clear in that report.... and there's certainly a lot of chatter at the moment."

She said decisions on what the Authority would look like would go before Cabinet soon.

"I would expect this should be front and centre for government... so pretty much now."