This is the 2017 edition of the Health Quality & Safety Commission’s Window on the Quality of New Zealand’s Health Care. It brings our measures up to date and draws out key messages about the quality of New Zealand’s health system.
This document helps the Commission fulfil its statutory responsibility to provide public reports on the quality and safety of health and disability support services. We draw the following conclusions from our review of the data:
Fewer New Zealanders are dying from conditions that can be treated, and premature death and disability caused by ill health is reducing.
The burden of disease from premature death and disability is similar to most other English-speaking and Western European countries, but per-capita expenditure on health care is lower in New Zealand than in most of these countries.
Where national programmes have concentrated on reducing harm, in most cases these harms have reduced. Significant, sustained reductions for falls in hospital which lead to a broken hip, wound infection following surgery, blood clots following surgery, and infection from central lines in intensive care units have occurred across New Zealand.
Reported patient experience appears at first sight to be consistently positive. However, patients are less positive when asked about specific processes of care than values such as respect and kindness being shown.
New Zealand is making progress on integrating care, although this is not consistent across the country. Wide and unexplained variation remains in access to treatments for individual diseases across the country.
Disparities remain in health outcomes between Māori, Pacific and New Zealand European peoples, and between the wealthiest and poorest New Zealanders. These disparities are not solely due to ‘determinants’ of health, like socioeconomic status, but instead are compounded by inequitable health care itself.
Improving quality provides value to the system, which avoids expenditure to resolve harms and potentially wasteful expenditure on services that may not be necessary, and value to New Zealanders, who live longer, healthier lives. We estimate that the subset of reduced harms and potentially wasted expenditure covered in this report has led to avoided costs of $90 million, and additional value to New Zealanders of nearly $400 million.
The report concludes by considering the health system’s opportunities for further improvement and how the New Zealand Health Strategy and Commission’s work can help.