Conference runs ahead of biggest health system shake-up in decades

August 1, 2021

Head of health reform unit to speak to nurses.

The NZNO conference and annual general meeting (AGM) runs again on September 15 and 16 at Te Papa in Wellington.

The conference is open to nurses, health professionals, and anyone with an interest in nursing – the AGM is for members only.

Guest speakers at the conference will include high-profile health professionals and academics.

They include director-general of health Ashley Bloomfield, who has been in the national spotlight as Aotearoa grapples with its COVID-19 response.

Also speaking is Professor Denise Wilson (Ngati Tahinga, Tainui) – a registered nurse (RN) with intensive and coronary care, acute medicine, and community nursing experience.

Her research has focused on whānau violence, equitable health service for Māori, cultural responsiveness, and workforce development.

Meanwhile the conference comes on the eve of the biggest shake-up of the health system in several decades.

The government announced this year that it would combine all 20 district health boards into a single entity known as Health NZ. It would also create a Māori Health Authority with the authority and budget to commission its own services.

Legislation underpinning the changes is planned to be introduced by September this year.

Speaking at the conference will be former director-general of health, Stephen McKernan – who heads up the transition unit for the changes.

They are expected to be largely in place by this time next year; with McKernan reporting to a ministerial group consisting of the Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and the ministers of finance, health, disability and associate health.

Other speakers at the conference include NZNO kaumātua Keelan Ransfield, who has also served on Te Poari, Kimmel Manning, NZNO co-chair of the National Student Unit; and Professor Palatasa Havea, Dean of Pacific Students’ Success at Massey University, in Palmerston North.