Hospitals under pressure but health system ‘coping’, says Health Minister Andrew Little


Benn Bathgate / Stuff

“I know some hospitals are facing very, very serious pressures but overall the system is coping,” said Health Minister Andrew Little.

New Zealand hospitals are under “very significant pressure”, admitted Health Minister Andrew Little, but he believes that “the system as a whole is doing well”.

Little was spoken at the opening of a new methamphetamine harm reduction program in Murupara on Friday, just a day after a woman died after leaving Auckland’s Middlemore Hospital due to the long weather waiting.

An emergency doctor at Middlemore Hospital said the 51-year-old suffered a brain haemorrhage hours after arriving in the emergency room.

Her death could have been avoided had she been seen, they said.

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Health Minister Andrew Little has announced a ‘high-powered task force’ to tackle long hospital backlogs.

Little said the onset of flu season meant the healthcare system was always going to be under pressure, and he said primary care issues needed to be addressed to help the hospital system, including GPs additional.

He said he could not discuss specific cases, but that the Labor government “has invested in our health system at a level never seen before, $11 billion in this budget”.

“As a minister, I look at the system as a whole. I know some hospitals are under very, very serious pressure, but overall the system is doing well. »

Little was speaking at the opening of the meth harm reduction program Te Ara Oranga, something he said represented “a whole new system of mental health.”

“The demand for addiction treatment services has grown steadily over the past decade, and we need to do more to help people and communities struggling with drugs get the holistic support they need.

“Te Ara Oranga is a unique partnership between police, mental health and addiction services, community groups and iwi service providers. It gives methamphetamine users the opportunity to get culturally appropriate therapeutic help with an approach specifically tailored to the local community,” he said.

“It has been shown to reduce drug-related harms and promote better community health, improved social well-being, including re-engagement with whānau and employment, and better justice outcomes, including reducing family violence and crime.

Health Minister Andrew Little was speaking the day after a woman died after being discharged from Middlemore Hospital due to waiting times, a death which a doctor said could have been avoided.


Health Minister Andrew Little was speaking the day after a woman died after being discharged from Middlemore Hospital due to waiting times, a death which a doctor said could have been avoided.

“Te Ara Oranga has been successfully tested in Northland and has been recognized as a game-changer in the fight against methamphetamine and drug-related crime.

“Over 3,000 Northlanders and their whānau have been helped since the program began. For every dollar spent on the program, there was a return of between $3 and $7.

“This is an example of a community-wide and led program that works and changes lives and we want more New Zealanders to benefit from it,” said Little.

The eastern Bay of Plenty region has been identified as a community with a high level of drug-related harm. It has higher than average meth use/possession offenses, sewage test results, and a proportion of people seeking help to overcome drug addiction.

“This government is committed to providing a health-based response for those who suffer from drug addiction. Making the benefits of Te Ara Oranga available in the East Bay of Plenty is part of that,” he said.

In addition to rolling out services in Murupara, funding of $3.5 million from Budget 2022 will allow Te Ara Oranga to expand and cover a geographic area from Whakatāne to Rotorua, and including Ōpōtiki, Kawerau and Murupara.

Budget 2022 included a $100 million investment for a specialized mental health and addictions program.


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