The New Zealand Medical Treatment Scheme (NZMTS) aims to assist Pacific island countries to provide their citizens with access to specialised medical treatment. The NZMTS comprises two components: the Overseas Referral Scheme (ORS); and Visiting Medical Specialists (VMS). This evaluation looked at the performance of the NZMTS over the period 2011/12 to 2013/14.
The ORS has successfully provided life-saving, tertiary-level clinical services for patients that were unavailable in-country, due to the limited clinical capacity of these local health systems. There is qualitative evidence of the capacity development impacts of VMS teams on local staff, including increased skill levels, and staff confidence. However recording of these outcomes by the Management Services Contractor (MSC) is not yet sufficiently well developed and is one of a number of gaps in current measurement and reporting that should be addressed in any future phase of support. There is potential to expand capacity development support in various ways, to further extend the range of benefits. There is quantitative evidence to suggest that the MSC has become more efficient in its implementation of the NZMTS over the evaluation period. There is scope to better define the parameters around financial management to further enhance efficiency.
Lessons learned from the successful operation of the NZMTS could be promulgated via a refreshed and simplified set of ORS Guidelines and Overseas Referrals Committee criteria. There is scope to improve information flows from the MSC to partner countries. Gaps in information unable to be filled in this evaluation should be addressed in discussion with stakeholders – Tuvalu in particular – to inform planning and design of any future support.