Health minister under fire over damning national health council report

Health minister Edith Schippers faced heavy criticism in parliament on Tuesday night about the functioning of the national health council and excessive government interference.

A damming report earlier this month said the council – which is supposed to regulate the healthcare sector as well as recommend policy changes – needs to have its responsibilities divided up.

The NZa has been embroiled in a string of scandals in recent months. Its two-man board resigned after media reports that they had gone on trips paid for by drugs companies.


A prominent whistleblower committed suicide after officials ignored his 600-page report into security and privacy lapses. There have also been several reports of government interference in NZa decisions, even though the NZa is supposed to be independent.

Schippers told MPs officials are still looking into financial agreements made between her ministry and hospitals and health insurers. And she said officials should have viewed Arthur Gotlieb’s report as a ‘free lesson’ and criticised senior officials for not bringing it to her attention.

The minster pledged earlier to look into dividing the regulator into two – one to monitor the market and one to make recommendations for changing the healthcare system and insurance.

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