Electorate hosts Health Minister visit

Locality network pilot revealed






Talofa lava. I was honoured to host the Health Minister, Andrew Little, in the Otaki ¯ electorate in March where he got to see the great work already happening here in the hauora space. We were privileged to have him come back to Levin in April for a fantastic health reform announcement at Te Takeretanga o Kura-hau-po¯ . Minister Little announced Horowhenua as one of the locality network pilots to improve how healthcare is delivered in local communities. The Government are supporting nine total localities around New Zealand. Locality planning networks are an essential feature of the health reforms which, subject to the legislation passing in Parliament, will take effect on July 1. Locality networks will be how communities, including iwi, have a say on what health services are provided for them, and how they will be provided. The first nine areas to roll out the locality¯approach are Horowhenua, Otara/ Papatoetoe, Hauraki, Taupo¯ / Tu¯ rangi, Wairoa, Whanganui, Porirua, West Coast and Eastern Bay of Plenty. You will see from this list an emphasis on areas with a strong Ma¯ ori or Pacific population and a big emphasis on rural populations. These are groups for whom services at present struggle to deliver on an equitable basis, and they’re the place to start. A locality coordinator will draw together health providers, iwi, local authority representatives, and social sector agencies to work out what is available and what is needed at a local level. The purpose of the process is to engage with the relevant community and understand its needs. The plan that is developed will be agreed with the relevant iwi Ma¯ ori partnership board and will be tailored to the community covered by the locality. That plan will form the basis of the funding decisions by Health New Zealand and the Maori Health Authority. The locality structure will be a mechanism for iwi and communities to have a voice in their healthcare. For example, one locality might have a need for more diabetes support — and it will be up to local partnerships to agree on whether dedicated services are needed. The care and support that is delivered will be joined-up across different health and wellbeing providers. For example, someone’s GP, local pharmacist and in-home nurse should be able to work better together to provide the wraparound care and support that that individual and their wha¯ nau need. And health and wellbeing providers will be connected to other community organisations that have a role in supporting people. This will ensure that we can better support all of a family’s needs, across areas like housing, employment and finances alongside healthcare. To achieve this, networks of providers including health and social care organisations will be set up. There will be different mechanisms that will encourage these providers to work together, such as short and longer term provider contracts, financial incentives, and data sharing and privacy agreements. Whatever the mechanism, the intention is for care to be comprehensive and holistic. For rural communities, there has been a longstanding challenge to recruit health workers and to have services available as close as possible to people. Locality planning offers the opportunity for better coordination between services currently on offer. More importantly, it’s a chance to rethink how services are offered (which could be digitally) or organised (for example, different practitioners might come together to better utilise facilities or try different business models). Horowhenua was chosen because there is positive progress happening here and this will be built on now that we are part of the pilot.