2023 | Volume 24 | Issue 5

Government NZ

The Aotearoa New Zealand (AoNZ) general election is fast-approaching. Polls open on 14 October 2023. The public will be deciding whether the incumbent Labour Party, led by Chris Hipkins, will win a third term in government or whether there will be a shift to the right of the political spectrum.

The outcome will have important consequences for health and surgical services. The health reforms, which have made significant changes to the organisation of the public health service, continue to roll out but could see a change in momentum and direction post-election.

Even without the reforms, the health system is facing unparallaled challenges, which are impacting on the provision of care. The next government will be under pressure to find fast solutions to issues, including workforce shortages and ageing or inadequate infrastructure. 

The Aotearoa New Zealand National Committee (AoNZNC) was interested to know where the major parties (Labour, National, the Green Party, ACT, Te Pāti Māori) stand on some of the questions most pressing to the surgical profession.

Their questions focused on five key themes:

  surgical workforce
  health inequity
  women’s health and unmet need
  the future of Te Aka Whai Ora – Māori Health Authority
  climate change.

RACS is also interested to hear the parties’ views on a topic for which it has been advocating on for some time—that the Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) should compensate earners if they require surgery following an injury incurred when they were non-earners.

The Labour Health Minister, Hon. Ayesha Verrall and the National Shadow Health Minister responded to our queries. However, we didn't receive replies from the Green Party, ACT, Te Pāti Māori or from either the ACC minister or shadow minister.

Here are the full questions and responses: https://bit.ly/4514yuD

Other AoNZ advocacy highlights

With the election looming, the volume of government consultations has decreased significantly.

The AoNZ team is putting together a submission on the Medical Council of New Zealand’s (MCNZ) draft updated statement on ‘Disclosure of harm following an adverse event’. The statement is intended to help doctors understand the purpose of open disclosure and to guide them in situtations that require harm to be disclosed.

We are generally supportive of the MCNZ statement but suggest some of the language be brought more in line with what is taught across medical specialties including compulsory RACS courses. We also suggest MCNZ consider the ’four Rs‘ format—recognition, responsibility, regret, remedy—to explain what is required.

The AoNZ team, along with the National Committee, continue to regularly engage with government health agencies to provide feedback on the state of Aotearoa’s surgical services and to offer solutions.