By September a new task force will have a plan ready to clear the backlog in public hospital waiting lists, impacted by Covid-19 and including equity for Māori and Pacific populations, one of its members, Dr Rawiri McKree Jansen (Ngāti Raukawa) says.
Thousands of planned operations and appointments have been cancelled, with health workers off sick or isolating, and the number of people waiting for their first appointments with hospital specialists have doubled.
The National Hauora Coalition clinical director, who has been appointed to the taskforce, tells teaomaori.news it is important to have the interim Māori Authority involved as a joint partnership along with the new Health New Zealand.
“There’s also a lot of backlog that pre-dated Covid. There is some work to do, and it’s really important that we get very active to get into a place where we’ve got a sensible plan by September.”
The equity issue is very important in terms of "getting the outcomes we want from the New Zealand health system, and it’s been an issue for a long time.
"So this is an opportunity to really put the focus of getting it right, and getting it right for Māori communities is clearly the most important area for the Māori Health Authority.”
'Unreasonable goals' welcome
Potential pushback by patients in higher-priority lists could occur but Dr Jansen says that across the three Auckland DHBs they were able to focus on those in the priority one, two and three lists, without any “damage” done to the two highest lists.
“There are ways of doing it and, yes, we have to be mindful of the complexity of those who are in priority [lists] one and two. That’s why this one is called the Planned Care Taskforce’ It’s on the ones which are not urgent, that don’t need to be done today or this week, and we are planning to get them done.”
Despite the September deadline, Dr Jansen says “a whole lot of work plans” will be underway as time goes on.
“I think the minister is interested in a plan that gets all of this sorted out within 18 months. I’m interested in unreasonable goals like that because, I think, the population we serve also holds that kind of a standard.”