New Health Targets Announced

The Government has announced health targets for cancer treatment, child immunisation, emergency departments, and wait times for first specialist assessments and elective treatment.

  • Faster cancer treatment – 90% of patients receive cancer management within 31 days of the decision to treat. 
  • Improved immunisation – 95% of children fully immunised at 24-months of age.
  • Shorter stays in emergency departments (ED) – 95% of patients admitted, discharged or transferred from an ED within 6 hours.
  • Shorter wait times for first specialist assessment – 95% of patients wait less than 4 months for a first specialist assessment.
  • Shorter wait times for elective treatment – 95% of patients wait less than 4 months for elective treatment.

By setting ambitious health targets, the Government will stabilise services and provide the focus needed to make improvements. It will be challenging for the sector and take time, but targets will help lift health system performance.

We know the difficulties the system faces – eg. the increasing complexity of delivering healthcare, workforce demands and an ageing population. These need to be addressed to improve access to services. It could take many years of focus to meet the targets.

Health New Zealand’s role is to look at ways to innovate and improve the delivery of health services that will make a difference to New Zealanders. It is expected to focus on improving performance in locations and services which have longer waits or low levels of achievement.

Clinical experts will be expected to provide commentary and advice on performance and what is being done to improve areas that are performing below expectations.

Health targets were in place from July 2007 to June 2020. They have previously supported all parts of the health system to be clear on priority areas and improve performance while maintaining clinical quality. They also support public accountability and greater trust and confidence in the health system.

Previous targets sometimes resulted in comparisons across 20 district health boards. New Zealand now has Health New Zealand as the national service provider. The targets will be reported nationally, regionally and by population groups where possible. They will take effect from 1 July 2024 with the first quarterly results available beginning with Quarter 1 2024/25.

The target programme will have an appropriate level of audit mechanisms to ensure there are no unintended consequences as a result of a focus on specific areas.

Monitoring of health targets will sit within a wider suite of monitoring on health system performance by the Ministry.

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