Debate must be part of a wider conversation.
Subject: Medical policy (Conferences, meetings and seminars)
Debates and debating
Forensics (Public speaking)
Author: Morgan, Gareth
Pub Date: 10/01/2010
Publication: Name: Kai Tiaki: Nursing New Zealand Publisher: New Zealand Nurses' Organisation Audience: Trade Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: Health; Health care industry Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2010 New Zealand Nurses' Organisation ISSN: 1173-2032
Issue: Date: Oct, 2010 Source Volume: 16 Source Issue: 9
Organization: Organization: New Zealand Nurses Organisation
Geographic: Geographic Scope: New Zealand Geographic Code: 8NEWZ New Zealand
Accession Number: 241179383
Full Text: Last month I had the pleasure of being involved in the NZNO conference debate, with the topic of whether New Zealand's health system is world class. It was a fun debate, with lots of lively speakers and some fantastic input from the floor. Our team (the negative) won, of course, but I won't gloat. [See coverage of the debate on pp 20-21 of this issue. Ed.]

For a debate, it was uncanny how much both sides agreed on. We all agreed the staff in our health system are certainly world class. We also agreed there were pockets that were world class--our emergency care and Pharmac are good examples. But all the efforts of our excellent workforce and a few pockets of excellence do not add up to a world class system.

Our system faces many problems, as surveyed in Health Cheque. The major problem is that New Zealand wants a champagne health system on a beer budget. Other problems include our fascination with fancy new technology and the rise of chronic disease, particularly diabetes.

Because of our incomes, if we want to keep up with other countries, our health system has to be the best in the world. But how do we achieve this? Following the release of Health Cheque, I have been talking to lots of people in the health sector and some common themes have started to emerge about what needs to be done. I have developed these into a Prescription for Change. This can be downloaded free from

Firstly, we need to prevent health problems from happening. The health system is more than just our hospitals--it extends right out into the community. The sooner the public and government recognises this, the sooner we can start investing in the most cost effective form of health care--prevention.

Next, we need to get the politicians out of the picture. The endless restructuring, the shifting focus, the pandering to lobby groups--it all has to stop, to allow the health sector to plan ahead and focus its resources on treating those with the greatest need and ability to benefit.

Finally, health professionals should have the ability to reorganise the delivery of health care and reinvest any savings they make.

The debate was a lot of fun. However, it was also part of a much bigger conversation and we all need to keep having that conversation in our workplaces and communities.

Column by Gareth Morgan, Gareth Morgan Investments
Gale Copyright: Copyright 2010 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.