“Te Whatu Ora has provided another example of what is going wrong with New Zealand’s self-serving bureaucracy. Their scolding of St John for allowing Dr Shane Reti to observe emergency services in action is the behaviour of a government department more worried about covering its own ass than providing the best services to New Zealanders,” says ACT Deputy Leader and Health spokesperson Brooke van Velden.

“St John is an organisation that is saving lives. Wellington bureaucrats should get out of its way and let it continue to do that, instead of running defence whenever someone tries to see what a poor state New Zealand’s health system is in. They’re meant to be providing a public service but their attitude towards accountability treats the public with disdain.  

“It is in everyone’s best interests to ensure that potential decision-makers have as much understanding of what is going on as possible. Because there is a heck of a lot of problems in the health system that need fixing, and Te Whatu Ora isn’t delivering.

“Now it appears Te Whatu Ora is writing up an agreement to make it harder for people to observe the health system. Minister Verrall should put her political intentions to one side, and instruct Te Whatu Ora to butt out and let organisations like St John do what they feel is right.

“Perhaps the Health Minister should actually be taking a leaf out of Dr Reti’s book. Getting some first-hand experience of the current system might prevent her from giving out the wrong ED data in the future. Seeing how bad things are might ensure her office is less worried about trivial matters like Dr Reti’s ridealongs and delaying the timing of data releases, and more focussed on rapidly declining health outcomes.

“The Government’s focus for health needs to single-mindedly be on improving access for all New Zealanders, which will ultimately be determined by a strong frontline service, not an enormous backroom bureaucracy. ACT will bring that focus to the next Government.”

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