Lost in the market? A survey of senior public health service managers in New Zealand's 'reforming' health system

Aust N Z J Public Health. 1996 Dec;20(6):567-73. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-842x.1996.tb01067.x.


In 1993, New Zealand implemented radical health sector reform, separating purchaser from provider and creating a competitive market. This paper reports on a 1994 survey of senior managers' perceptions of how well public health services were adapting to this more commercial environment. An initial questionnaire to chief executive officers of Crown health enterprises, the main providers of public health, as well as secondary treatment services, was followed by a telephone survey of managers of public health services. Chief executives expressed generally positive views about the importance of public health, especially health promotion, within their organisations. Public health managers indicated a wide range of negative and positive views about the new system. They were concerned especially about service fragmentation, diminished information-sharing and decreased collaboration, especially with Maori and general practice providers. Questions were raised about the compatibility of competition with the need for collaboration in public health. The major issue was the inefficient, costly, conflicting and fragmented purchasing arrangements for public health. Managers wanted united systems and fewer purchasers. More positive views were expressed on an improved focus on outputs and clearer directions, and none wanted to return to the former era of an entirely separate system for public health services. The abolition of the Public Health Commission during 1995 should lead to increased integration of purchasing and policy making, but important questions remain about the place of public health services, especially in their links with primary care.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Administrative Personnel
  • Health Care Reform*
  • Health Policy
  • Health Promotion
  • Health Services Administration*
  • Humans
  • New Zealand
  • Public Health Administration*