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Call for more wāhine Māori and Pacific women for health leadership positions

Building Leadership & Capability
08 March 2021

On International Women’s Day, the Health Quality & Safety Commission (the Commission) is highlighting the importance of having wāhine Māori and Pacific women in leadership positions to improve the quality, safety and equity of the health system.

Stephanie Turner, director Māori health outcomes at the Commission, highlights the current lack of wāhine Māori and Pacific women in decision-making positions and the impact of this on quality and safety.

‘The health system privileges Western knowledge systems and norms. These have a direct link to the unacceptable health inequities we see for Māori and Pacific communities.

‘It is up to all of us to understand and address this, so more wāhine Māori and Pacific women are at every decision-making table. It’s important for those who have experienced the direct and daily impacts, stress and loss caused by inequities to design health care systems and models to improve outcomes.’

Building sector leadership and capability is central to the Commission’s improvement work. Its improving leadership and capability programme highlights the connection between having a diverse, capable workforce and better patient care and outcomes.

The programme emphasises that quality and safety are top priorities for building a more responsive, equitable health care system. Together with patients and their whānau, a capable workforce with diverse leadership can apply their collective knowledge and skills to meeting the needs of patients.

Stephanie Turner says the quality and safety of health services for all New Zealanders can only improve with more wāhine Māori and Pacific women in leadership positions.

‘Models of care that are closely connected into and with communities would be the norm, as would commissioning and funding models that enable Māori and Pacific whānau and consumers to design services in settings that work for them. Mātauranga [Māori knowledge] solutions in health systems, services and practices would be enabled.

‘It is not about employing one or two wāhine Māori and Pacific women into leadership positions,’ she says, ‘but about redressing the balance so there is an impact on organisational culture and an improvement in the overall quality and safety of our health system.’

You can learn more about the Commission’s improving leadership and capability programme here.

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