New Zealand’s health and disability systems are currently heavily organised to treat illness and disease, typically with each condition treated separately, often by different specialist practitioners, and a focus on acute care. This episodic and fragmented approach that characterises the biomedical model of health care is appropriate in many instances where people experience specific illness of short duration with little to no interactions across their psychosocial conditions. But the ineffectiveness of this approach for the increasing number of patients with complex health, disability and psychosocial issues is now increasingly recognised.
Following the release of the report of the Health and Disability System Review 2020, the government has now announced major changes to the health and disability system. These changes, and the additional finer detail still to be determined, present an opportunity to align workforce use to the new models and settings of care to enable more sustainable resource consumption with a focus on maintaining health and wellbeing (as opposed to treating illness) and supporting the population’s growing desire for choice, control, and independence. The role of allied health professionals in this shift is critical.
This report examines the evidence and identifies the critical changes that are key to designing a system with fully integrated allied health services aligned with the objectives of the health and disability system reforms.