Health care successes highlighted, but inequities remain

1 Jun 2017 | Health Quality Intelligence

The latest snapshot of the quality of New Zealand’s health care, published today, shows continuing improvements, but also highlights ongoing inequity in treatment.

A Window on the Quality of New Zealand’s Health Care 2017 is the third ‘Windows’ report released by the Health Quality & Safety Commission.

It shows that overall, New Zealand’s health care system delivers good quality care and good value for money. Fewer New Zealanders are dying from conditions that can be treated, and premature deaths and disability caused by ill health are reducing.

Commission Director Health Quality Evaluation, Richard Hamblin, says the impact on society of premature death and disability is similar to most other English-speaking and Western European countries, even though New Zealand’s per capita expenditure on health care is lower than most of these countries.

However, he says there are still inequities in the outcomes for Māori, Pacific peoples and New Zealanders in the most deprived populations.

‘Even when adjustments are made for socioeconomic status, multiple health conditions and other factors, there are disparities between the health experiences and outcomes of these populations compared to other ethnicities and populations.

‘Māori and Pacific peoples, for example, are between two and three times more likely to die from conditions where death could be prevented by effective and timely care. These conditions include coronary heart disease, asthma, diabetes and a range of cancers and infections. The Mortality Review Committees’ reports corroborate this finding.[1] Māori are 62 percent more likely to die after surgery; and Māori mothers twice as likely to die in childbirth than European mothers.

He says in areas where the Commission has coordinated programmes aimed at reducing harm, and worked with the sector, there have been positive results.

’For example, there have been sustained reductions in falls that occur in hospital, wound infections and blood clots following surgery, and infection from central lines in intensive care units. These avoided instances of harm have saved the New Zealand health care system nearly $20m of costs, which can now be spent on treating other patients.’

Commission surveys of health care staff and patient experience of health care have been generally positive but a small but significant minority of negative responses suggest that, despite these successful programmes, a safety culture is not yet consistent across the country.

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 [1] Mortality review committees are statutory committees that review particular deaths, or the deaths of particular people, in order to learn how to best prevent these deaths.

Last updated 01/06/2017