Faithful BayBuzz readers know I’m queasy about the quality of NZ health care. Not that my own doctor isn’t fine, or that I don’t appreciate the occasional free visit to physio.

It’s kind of like politicians … we tend to like our own MP, but “those guys in Wellington” are real meatheads.

To take the pulse of the health system, I collected all health headlines from a search of the NZ Herald and Dom Post in the month of October. It’s hard not to get cold sweats over headlines like these …

  • Hospital tensions on the rise
  • Maori and Pacific cancer treatment rates worries board
  • Woman scalded during labour
  • Review finds maternity service gaps
  • Health sector ills
  • Mental health care falling short
  • Babies and mums at risk
  • Maternity services ‘on low priority’
  • Health board says sorry for deaths
  • NZ lagging behind in cardiac care
  • Patient deaths ‘potentially preventable’
  • And he still waits, seven months on
  • Incentives needed to lure anaesthetists
  • Heart patients deaths preventable
  • Pharmac funding a cruel lottery
  • Woman left with unfinished surgery
  • Patients’ files lost in system
  • Lost in the system: Hospital failings exposed

Versus these headlines …

  • Most health boards are showing improvement
    (based on Health Ministry study)
  • Government trumpets success in health
    (what else would they say in election year?)
  • Patient hospital approval at 86.6%
    (based on a survey commissioned by the Health Ministry)

Which set of headlines should we believe? Personally, I tend to give more credence to stories based upon genuinely independent (even better, peer-reviewed) studies than I do to the self-congratulation of the Health Ministry.

Arguably, these headlines reflect either:

  • Alarmist headline writers running amok;
  • Symptoms of a seriously ill health care system; or,
  • Isolated aberrations that are not reflective of the true quality of health care in NZ.

Like I’ve said before … fearing the worst, I’m trying my best to stay healthy and out of the system! As for the parties …

  • National says the system is choked by health bureaucrats, who absorb resources that should be re-allocated to frontline doctors, nurses and actual care-giving.
  • The Greens say devote far more resources to prevention and wellness.
  • Labour says not to panic … the patient is making steady improvement … take two aspirin and go back to sleep.

You can judge for yourself.


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  1. If one relied on the Press for balance -you would fall over sideways!

    My 89 year old Mother , who has been in & out of Hospital for years thinks they are wonderful; but she stays in a ward not the admin.offices.

  2. I agree with Dave Head. My grandson had a dramatic entry into the world in Wellington Hospital earlier this year. He and my daughter required hospital care. Everyone in all areas of the hospital were fantastic. They did everything that could possibly be done to ensure that they both recovered. I wrote a letter to the Dominion about our experience and it was not published – "Points noted!!"they said. We don't hear the good news.

  3. Well we got a change of Govt, but it remains to be seen whether we will experience any real change in the Health system.

    My own experience over the last five years of working with pre-dominantly Maori & Pacific Island peoples is that there is still far too

    much tax payers money being wasted on yet another Hui and policy paper, and a raft of questionable middle management executives running aroung in brand new cars, looking for the next box ticking brownie point.

    The support for effective hands-on programs that work is non-existent, as all the money has been wasted by the consultation process, and the "we will get back to you soon" mantra.

    Meanwhile many families are struggling to feed their families,

    and one of the main solutions — the do-it-for-yourself, grow your own kai in your own backyard or community garden, and teach people how to cook nutritious family meals — again is not receiving

    the resources that are being wasted by a endless "cross the Ts" box-ticking exercise that is sucking up millions of tax payers dollars. This can't be good for your health.

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