Healthcare must be prioritised based on need, not race

The Government not only cannot define racism, it would seem, it cannot recognise racism when it hits it in the face. 

As Health Minister Ayesha Verrall rallies to defend the indefensible, it is important to note that this unethical policy has not appeared out of the blue. It stands on the foundation of racism that this Government has normalised.

This week we will deliver our open letter calling for a condemnation of all forms of racism to Justice Minister Kiri Allan as planned. Fed up, 28,648 New Zealanders have signed the letter having identified that something is very wrong in New Zealand. It is the letter that NZME refused to publish.

“We call on you to make clear to the Ministry of Justice and the Human Rights Commission (including the Race Relations Commissioner) that as minister you do not tolerate any form of racism and that no matter who it is targeted at, the Government will treat the matter seriously.”

The Government keep trying to hide behind their policy and legislative failures by accusing everyone else of racism, but they are unwilling or unable to define what racism is nor confirm that it is something they take seriously when it is directed at anyone. This latest healthcare revelation is a symptom of this.

The incorporation of racism into legislation and public policy must be stopped. It is unethical and indefensible.

Every New Zealander should be able to feel safe in the knowledge that if they need medical treatment their race will not unfairly disadvantage them. There is a thing or two written about this in the Human Rights Act 1993!

Ignoring practical alternatives and failing to effectively engage with those who can provide solutions, Labour has simply forged ahead with a race-based health system.

Given that the recent health reforms embedded division of races in the legislation by forming a separate Maori Health Authority, it is hardly unexpected that further race-based policies would follow. Co-governance is a recipe for further disharmony not cooperation.

Even before the Pae Ora (Health Reform) legislation came into effect $22million was allocated to establishing the Maori Health Authority board headed up by Nanaia Mahuta's sister Tipa.

The New Zealand Initiative produced a comprehensive report on what is actually needed for Health Reform. 

The foreword of this report was prepared by Dr Des Gorman Emeritus Professor of Medicine, who is himself Maori. In a podcast discussion on this issue he said:

"We can all agree that the time to address the underlying causes of this inequality is well overdue. However, what is needed are objective data about what leads to improved outcomes rather than political rhetoric."

He is exactly right. And was also right when he defended the professionalism of the health service refuting the accusations of systemic or institutional racism.

Additionally, the commentary of inequitable outcomes was noted by many as having much more complex contributing factors. Most of these factors are outside of the control of health services. Ultimately, there is no evidence that basing service delivery by race will achieve better health outcomes.

Dr Lawrie Knight also produced a very considered and detailed submission regarding the health reform - click to read. 

Some of New Zealand's brightest minds can clearly see through the accusations of systemic and institutional racism that are the fallback position of this Government. They know it is a distraction from real issues. 

Race should never be a consideration, in the allocation of health services. Every New Zealander's health is important and every life is valued. It is frankly sickening to see Kiwis valued differently depending on their race. Who their ancestors are.

This is why Hobson’s Pledge has been fighting against racism so aggressively over the past few months. It is embedded in our Government and public services and we cannot afford to be complacent. New Zealand is a proud multicultural nation and to suggest that my Maori heritage would be a factor in me getting access to healthcare that another Kiwi might need more should be abhorrent to everyone.

I know I have asked you to sign a lot of petitions lately, but it is working! They allow us to draw attention to these issues and it is very hard to ignore our collective voice. So, I am asking again. Please sign:

New Zealanders want a health system based on need, not race. Sign the petition to demand that the New Zealand Government immediately halts all race-based prioritisation in healthcare and triages patients by need and urgency. 

We cannot effect real change while so many New Zealanders are being forced to be silent and accept the racist division of our wonderful country.

Please help us normalise this conversation and give courage to more New Zealanders to say ENOUGH!

One nation, one people. Don’t let them keep dividing us.