NZNO meets with health reform transition boss

July 1, 2021

NZNO leaders have had a sit down and a cuppa with the man in charge of bringing about billion-dollar health reforms.

Kaiwhakahaere Kerri Nuku said Stephen McKernan, health reform transition unit head, spoke about progress on sweeping changes announced in April by the Government.

McKernan, the former director-general of health, was appointed last year to head up reforms that would see all 20 DHBs amalgamated into a single agency called Health NZ (HNZ).

They would also see the creation of a separate Māori Health Authority (MHA) with the power to commission its own services.

Nuku said McKernan talked about the work they had done to date, which had been “at pace”.

“Because bedding in such a huge operation into such tight timeframes is going to be no easy task.”

She said she had challenged McKernan about why nurses were not considered an important stakeholder.

“He reassured me that we were – and I reminded him I had to ask for this meeting, it didn’t come to us. And that we’re not just a union, we’re professional organisation.”

McKernan said there were about 350 applications for positions on the interim governing group for the Māori Health Authority.

Nuku said the NZNO wanted to make sure that when issues such as power-sharing, performance monitoring, accountability of procurement and workforce were being discussed, then nurses were at the table too.

Nuku said she did get the sense that McKernan was taking direction from the MHA transition group, headed by Tā Mason Durie.

New laws underpinning the proposed reforms will be introduced in September.

And everything – including health workers’ employment contracts – should be switched across to the new health entities by July next year.