Te Whatu Ora (Health NZ) Chief Executive meets the DIAS Collective
Independent Living was delighted to recently host a presentation by Te Whatu Ora (Health NZ) to the DIAS Collective (Disability Information and Advisory Service).
Fepulea'i Margie Apa, the CEO of Te Whatu Ora was accompanied by Danny Wu - Northern Regional Wayfinder.
Background to Te Whatu Ora
Te Whatu Ora is a new Ministry, formed as part of the health reforms in July 2022. The Ministry of Health is now a policy and governance body, with all day-to-day oversight of primary health (doctors, physios etc) and all hospital services (DHBs etc) falling within the mandate of Te Whatu Ora. Margie Apa’s role therefore is a huge one – with responsibility for 92,000 staff across all public hospitals in NZ as well as liaison with all public and private primary health providers. The 29 previous DHBs and ancillary health organisations have been aggregated into 4 Regions across the country. Northland, Waitemata, Auckland and Counties Manukau DHBs now fall under Te Whatu Ora Northern.
Forming Te Whatu Ora
Margie talked about the issues in merging so many organisations different IT systems, ways of operating and policies into one cohesive system, and said it will take time to realise the benefits. However, this was essential to avoid the current post code lottery whereby patients receive different treatments and waiting times based on their DHB.
“We need to get smarter on how to make healthcare more accessible, and this includes our data. We need good info to make decisions. There is lots to do to free up time and resources, and cost, so we can reinvest that money and get ourselves more efficient in structures and systems, and ways of working” said Margie.
Margie also acknowledged the huge shortages in the health workforce and identified the benefits of having one organisation now to recruit on behalf of the whole country rather than the costly issue of multiple DHBs having to recruit and in effect compete against one another. By working as one organisation, staffing can easily move to places of most need, and the same can be applied to patients to ensure they get timely care.
Collaboration is Key
Margie highlighted the importance of working closely with Te Aka Whai Ora (Māori Health Authority) and Whaikaha (Ministry of Disabled People) to ensure Māori health opportunities, respect for traditional Māori health practices and health service provision for disabled are improved.
Margie announced “We are recruiting a Chief Advisor for people with disability. A key focus is how we give voice to our communities. How do we give life to the experiences that people with disability live with? There are things we may want to do differently and we’re a very wide organisation so how do we get consistency across the country? The pace of change can feel glacial at times. How do we coordinate across such a complex environment? We see the huge service delivery differences in Te Tai Tokerau (Northland) versus central Auckland for example. We can now shift resources between regions to ensure better outcomes nationwide.”
How the Community can contribute
The DIAS Collective was then encouraged by Margie to forward their recommendations on how to provide better or wider access to their services, and she was keen to learn more about a personalised service for kidney dialysis patients, and fairer nationwide access to Occupational Therapist assessments for Cerebral Palsy customers as just two examples from the attendees.
Margie encourages the DIAS partner organisations to provide a louder voice of the customer to Te Whatu Ora, as they are representatives of the disabled communities and have a far deeper appreciation for what works and what is required.
“Success will be measured by outcomes that the customer values – not just through traditional measures of ‘counting widgets’ or clinical measures. For example, ED wait times is a critical service measure in a customer's mind” said Danny Wu, Northern Regional Wayfinder for Te Whatu Ora.
The DIAS Collective thanked Margie and Danny for their transparency and willingness to listen and approach health from a wider consumer perspective. Independent Living is pleased to facilitate these important education and collaboration events.