VOL. 17 – NO.2
Political Panel Discussion Wellington Members of Parliament Annette King and Peter Dunne were well received at the Parkinson’s New Zealand AGM in April when they shared Labour and United Future’s positions on relevant health and disability policies. There were also problems with an untrained workforce, which required proper training and a plan had to be developed. Ms King emphasised the importance of a long term strategy because “if you don’t know where you are going you will never get there.” Mr Dunne said there were both challenges and huge potential in the fact that more than 350 Non- Government Organisations worked in the health space and more use could be made of their capabilities and skills.
He also remarked how DHBs needed to change their “don’t call us, we’ll call you” attitudes.
We invited spokespeople from the Parliamentary political parties to participate in a panel discussion and Ms King and Mr Dunne acquitted themselves well on the day, going by the applause, and the energy and attentiveness of the audience. The Green Party’s Health Spokesperson Kevin Hague and New Zealand First Health Spokesperson Barbara Stewart, were unable to attend but sent written statements (see page 2 & 3). Ms King, who had attended the Kapiti Parkinson’s group AGM two weeks previously, provided an interesting insight into her personal relationship with Parkinson’s; she has a family member with Parkinson’s and another who is a neurosurgeon who has worked in Western Australia on Deep Brain Stimulation. She said she is aware of the support that is required for people with Parkinson’s and the importance of maintaining on-going friendships. Parkinson’s New Zealand Chief Executive, Deirdre O’Sullivan, asked the MPs about their parties’ positions regarding respite care in light of the discrepancies of availability and quality of these services across the country. Ms King said that it was a matter of looking at the fundamentals in health. The current government health targets were too narrow and the amount of funding available and the priorities of the sector were key issues.
The letters of expectation Ministers send to DHBs came in for some discussion, with Mr Dunne and Ms King agreeing the letters could be more explicit and that some DHBs were better than others at delivering what the Government required from them. Following a question about why an individualised patient care pilot in the Bay of Plenty was being swept under the carpet, Mr Dunne said he didn’t know the details of the pilot but structural issues could be a problem with all the different DHBs and balancing regional autonomy and the Government’s expectations. Ms King said she was not opposed to such pilots but remarked that while we were very good at having pilots in this country, we were really bad at evaluating them. The politicians disagreed on some aspects of individualised patient care, which Ms King said undermined a collective approach and was perhaps a way of reducing community mental health services. However, Mr Dunne said it was clear that community involvement was intended as part of the Government’s policy in this area. Another member talked about how it was so hard to find respite care in the Palmerston North area and a long discussion ensued about striking the balance between regional autonomy and national standards. Mr Dunne emphasised the need to not go back to centralised planning of health and Ms King stressed the need for national standards via service specifications. Whatever one’s viewpoint, more analysis of specific regional health needs was necessary; it was agreed, with the example of the high rate of Colon Cancer in Southland discussed. ARTICLE CONTINUED ON PAGE 2
Published on Jul 30, 2014