Reforms to the Health System in New Zealand

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Message from Hon Carmel Sepuloni MP, Minister for Disability Issues.

This week Health Minister Andrew Little announced reforms to the Health System in New Zealand, in response to the Health and Disability System Review.

Our Health and Disability System has not performed consistently in providing quality health care and equitable health outcomes for the disabled community.

The announcement states that we are undertaking work on system transformation for disability support services (DSS), in partnership with the disabled community and based on the vision and principles of the Enabling Good Lives approach. Decisions on the transformed system and the machinery of government to support it will be taken in September this year.

However, disabled people have a strong interest in ensuring that the broader health system works for them, addresses health inequities and improves outcomes. The disabled community will be an important voice in these reforms, which will help to build a stronger Health System that delivers for all.

I wanted to take the opportunity to provide you with some additional information on our next steps.

If you have any further questions, please don’t hesitate to get in contact via[email protected] and I will ensure your questions are answered.

What’s changing? Why?

The shift from 20 District Health Boards to a single nationwide health system managed by Health NZ will improve the quality and consistency of care for disabled people.

A national coordinated network will also help ensure best practice care is shared amongst all disabled communities, and that care does not vary depending on where you live.

The Disability Strategy will remain a cornerstone of our health system, and direct the Ministry of Health, Māori Health Authority and Health NZ in delivering improved health outcomes for disabled communities.

The Government has yet to decide the future of DSS following feedback from the disabled community on the Health and Disability System Review. The Ministries of Health and Social Development will provide advice on the future of DSS later this year. That advice will follow further work with the disabled community based on the principles of Enabling Good Lives and advice developed as part of the machinery of government review of DSS.

What will it look like in future?

A wider range of primary and community care services will be available across New Zealand, developed to be more inclusive of disabled people.

A stronger consumer voice in the design of locality services and planning will give disabled people opportunities to shape services that better suit their needs and help them stay well in the community. The networking and integration of primary and community services will also make care more coordinated, minimising repetition, and ensuring carers have a better understanding of users’ needs.

Health NZ will create avenues to advocate nationally to ensure best practice and service design reflect the diverse interests and needs of disabled people.

When more specialised care is needed, disabled people will have access to high quality hospital and specialist care regardless of where they live in New Zealand.

What’s next?

Over coming months there will be opportunities to influence the details of how our future health system will work, including how we can ensure that Health NZ acts to continuously improve the quality and consistency of care for disabled people, across our health system.

As noted above, further decisions on the future of DSS will be made by the end of 2021.

Want to know more?

Further information about the work and progress of the health reforms is available on the DPMC website under the work of the Transition Unit:


Carmel Sepuloni

Hon Carmel Sepuloni

Email [email protected]


Office of Hon Carmel Sepuloni MP, Minister for Social Development & Employment, Minister for Disability Issues, Minister for ACC and Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage