New Zealand's health care system is performing well despite a number of challenges, according to a report from the Health Quality and Safety Commission.
Commission director of health quality intelligence Richard Hamblin said New Zealand has a good health system compared to similar countries.
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The primary outcomes of care, reducing death and disability, are improving at a rate as good as or better than similar countries and this is being achieved at a lower cost.
Despite this, the system needs to be improved to deliver equitable outcomes and the report highlighted a number of concerns for the future.
Mr Hamblin said there's been a lack of progress in tackling long-standing problems like delivering equitable outcomes, which has been highlighted in the report for four consecutive years.
"We found clear evidence of inequities across access, treatment, patient experience and outcomes for patients of different ethnicities, age groups and income levels in New Zealand. High quality health care recognises and meets greater need, and in doing so, can reduce health inequity," he said.
Looking ahead, there are early warning signals for financial stress, workforce wellbeing, and increasingly complex safety issues.
"Up until budget 2018, there had been no real increase in funding for a number of years. We looked internationally, and we saw an increasing gap between expenditure on the New Zealand health care system and that of other similar countries. We are also concerned about continuing district health board deficits," Mr Hamblin said.
DHBs were having to stretch their budgets with many of them are spending more than what they have, which the report identified as a warning signal for possible future quality, safety and sustainability problems.
"In terms of the health workforce, we are seeing early warnings signals that raise concern for staff wellbeing, including evidence of bullying," Mr Hamblin said.
The full report A Window on the Quality of New Zealand's Health Care 2018 is available here.