The Medical Council today called on
doctors to work in partnership with Māori and address the issues of
inequity they face in the health system.
Council chairman, Mr Andrew Connolly
says cultural competence and genuine partnership with Māori are
important aspects of achieving excellence in medical practice.
Both cultural competence and partnership improve our
understanding and knowledge of our patients and allow us to
consider inequities in patient care and patient outcomes and inform
ways to address these.
In doing so we improve the care we provide and therefore improve
patient and population health outcomes.'
'A particular focus of Council's cultural competence standards
is on best practices when providing care to Māori patients and
Today, nearly 10 years since the publication of the Council's
standards on cultural competence many health statistics continue to
highlight the poorer outcomes that Māori experience compared to
Mr Connolly says, 'Council sees health inequities as
unacceptable and from this arise professional and moral obligations
to address inequity.
'It is now timely to re-emphasise the Council's expectations of
the profession to be culturally competent and to outline
expectations around the profession's engagement and partnership
with Māori organisations and healthcare providers.'
Māori engagement with, and representation at, all levels within
the health sector is vital to improving Māori health outcomes.
Māori doctors have historically advocated strongly on behalf of
Māori and worked to break down barriers experienced by Māori
patients in accessing the health system. This continues with
today's Māori medical students and doctors and extends far beyond
any one clinical consultation.
'As a profession, one significant way we can help improve equity
is by supporting Māori doctors in their advocacy and leadership
roles within the profession and in society. It is encouraging to
see this year for the first time, demographic proportionality has
been achieved, with the number of Māori students entering medical
school proportionate to the Māori population. The challenge is
ensuring that this proportionality will in turn continue throughout
all layers of health organisations.' Mr Connolly said.
Whilst the determinants of equity are broader than health alone,
there are also important considerations for institutions involved
in health care.
The Council Mr Connolly says is also
advocating that medical colleges work with Māori doctors to
highlight the cultural demands upon them and to ensure where
relevant that college decisions help address inequity.
'Vocational colleges are strong advocates and supporters of
their fellowship and we are encouraging all colleges to review how
they can support their Māori fellowship in the wider roles these
doctors are expected to perform.'
District health boards (DHBs) have a
crucial responsibility to support Māori patients and their whānau.
Māori cultural support services are well established in most DHBs
and Council, through our oversight of intern training, places
particular importance on these services, especially in relation to
their support of interns in developing cultural competence.
Mr Connolly said, 'The Council believes all doctors and health
organisations have a professional and moral responsibility to work
to eliminating such inequities, in partnership with Māori through
genuine representation and participation'.