Britain Can Learn a Lot from NZ’s Healthcare System
The distant shores of New Zealand, which has a broadly similar healthcare system to the UK’s, provides some lessons for Britain’s NHS, writes Robin Gauld, professor of health policy at the University of Otago.
“New Zealand has a slightly longer history in working towards creating a national health system, having embarked just over 75 years ago on such a process via the landmark Social Security Act 1938.
“The visionary principles laid down at the time were that healthcare access should be universal and free from financial and other barriers, that all New Zealanders should have equal access to the same standard of treatment, and that the health system should be integrated and preventive rather than curative in focus. Indeed, these principles are close to what many of the world’s policymakers aspire to today.
“Over the years, New Zealand governments have experimented with health system designs aimed at promoting competition, national equity and democratic governance.
“Virtually every organisational and funding model has been tried. The most recent model – alliancing – provides hope that the 1938 goals may be rejuvenated.
“Derived from large construction projects, alliancing requires that all providers in a region work collaboratively within a whole system approach to ensure that services are designed with what is best for patients and the public in mind.
“Alliancing provides a different incentive set from the current clinical commissioning group (CCG) model in the English NHS, yet GPs are at the heart of New Zealand’s current arrangements. The model could be useful for visionary CCGs to embrace if basic NHS principles of equity and universal access are to be protected.”
Professor Gauld is a NZ-UK Link Foundation visiting professor, hosted by the School of Advanced Study, University of London from September-December 2014.
Original article by Robin Gauld, The Guardian, October 21, 2014.
Photo by AP.