Government promises to stamp out unfairness in health with new strategies

The Government's promising to stamp out unfairnesses in the health system, releasing hundreds of pages of strategies for how it will achieve that.

But the equity adjustor tool that clinicians devised to address inequitable surgical waitlists is still on hold and is being reviewed after the Opposition attacked it.

A huge promise from the Health Minister about the future of healthcare.

"Unfair differences in health outcomes between population groups become a thing of the past," said Dr Ayesha Verrall.

The Government on Wednesday unveiled plans to address the unfairnesses faced by women, disabled people, rural communities, Pasifika, and Māori.

It's a whopping 401 pages of strategy.

"To get out of the situation of every winter bringing its pressures, we have to set a high-level, long-term goal of reorientating healthcare towards prevention," said Dr Verrall.

The case for change could not be clearer - especially for Māori.

The strategy put it in black and white: "racism is a root cause of health inequity".

It will take a decade to even slightly reduce the death gap between Māori and non-Māori from seven years to six.

"We certainly aim to close that gap. The advice we got when we did the smoke-free reform was that could close the gap by two years," said Dr Verrall.

Māori also languish on surgical waitlists, so a team of clinicians came up with a tool to address that.

The equity adjustor moves patients up waitlists based first on their clinical need, but also factoring in where they live, deprivation and ethnicity.

But after it hit the headlines and suffered attacks from the Opposition, it was put on hold to be reviewed.

"It will take some time because it's important that they get that right," said Dr Verrall.

She denied the Government was kicking the can down the road until after the election.

"What we are doing is saying we are going to  evaluate whether or not this tool works."

It's not just priority surgery under attack from National, but language too.

At a meeting in Nelson on Tuesday, Luxon was questioned about bilingual kura school signs. One person said, "we want some action". 

National leader Christopher Luxon said: "Well the first thing you have to do buddy is you've got to vote October 14 to get me in there to Government".

He was promising the crowd he will change the Māori names of Government agencies.

"I am of the view that we should rename our Government departments in English so people can navigate their Government."

That's even though the agencies he mentions already have both English and Te Reo Maori names.

He said there wouldn't necessarily be less te reo under a Government he led.

"I am someone who is really wanting to learn te reo and I keep learning regularly and trying to improve," Luxon said. 

Luxon slowly learning that everything he says in public meetings requires an explanation.