Budget 2018: New spending for health represents important opportunity to do things differently
It is high time that New Zealand not only makes fundamental revisions to healthcare infrastructure but also pays its health workforce what it is worth
Wellington, 17 May 2018 – Deloitte partner Thorsten Engel says the extra capital spending for health announced in Budget 2018 is a start in tackling needed hospital maintenance and asset replenishment costs.
“Officials would be well advised to heed lessons learned from how poorly past hospital design and construction projects have fared, and hopefully ensure we get better value for money this time around,” says Mr Engel.
“Deloitte research indicates that ‘digital hospitals’ and ‘hospitals without walls’ can be game changers around how healthcare is delivered, so let’s make the most of these new investments and think about how we can do things differently,” he adds.
But extra capital spend is only part of the equation. We have nurses signalling industrial action and many other registered and allied health professionals calling for higher wages. Therefore, the additional operational funding announced in Budget 2018 is also welcome.
“Again, we hope this money will be spent differently from how it’s been spent in the past. The Government wants to lift New Zealand’s productivity, and it is about time we did so in healthcare,” says Mr Engel.
At a system level, we are not operating as well as we could. By recognising the value of the professionals who make an invaluable contribution to our society, we will hopefully draw health system planners’ attentions to the fact that we need to reengineer the way our system works. When squeezing salary and wage bills has run its course, one is forced to contemplate more difficult and fundamental change in any health system.
“Why should health professionals lose countless hours of patient contact time to tasks like manually completing paperwork, chasing up diagnostic results or dealing with appointment bookings and care coordination? Why should they work in hospitals that are designed like rabbit warrens with poor patient flow, stove-pipe clinical service departments and disconnected systems and processes,” asks Mr Engel.
“It is high time that New Zealand paid its health workforce what our professional and allied health workers are worth and made fundamental revisions to our healthcare infrastructure. However, it is also high time that we looked at how we deploy these highly skilled professionals and reengineer the way we operate and how we ensure that our capital investments are fit for the future of healthcare,” he concludes.
For Deloitte’s full Budget 2018 commentary and analysis go to www.deloitte.com/nz/2018budget.