Academic and Papakura GP Matire Harwood was having second thoughts before she headed to Wellington for the health reforms announcement, but was glad she made the trip.
“There was such a sense of optimism and I thought both [Mr Little and associate health minister Peeni Henare] spoke from the heart...a few of us had tears in our eyes when Andrew Little talked about the little boy and entrusting him to surgeons.”
There were reports of fist-pumping back in the office of her PHO, National Hauora Coalition, when the Māori Health Authority was confirmed.
“I think everyone came away from the announcement thinking this is going to be fantastic. I know we need to hear the details but, for me, the vision is clear and promising, even if we don’t quite know who is going to build the rubber that will eventually hit the road.”
If Dr Harwood has any concerns, they are around the board that will administer the new authority.
She wants fresh faces involved: “I think that message was delivered loud and clear, we can’t have the same old, same old. We need younger faces, we need experts in the cultural changes that will be needed, we need experts in commissioning.”
Dr Harwood says her take-away from the day was the widespread buy-in from her healthcare colleagues.
“It was clear from every meeting, whether about the Māori entity, community services or primary care, every single person said: ‘I want to help, please communicate with me’. We all want change, and I think this is the best thing that can happen.”