Transformational Healthcare Leadership: Healthcare for all

‘Achieving equity was a clear desire. A system that was more sustainable, a system that was more centred on the consumer, on person-centred care, a system that truly achieved partnership.’

Mark O’Brien in conversation with Stephen McKernan

‘The enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health is one of the fundamental rights of every human being without distinction of race, religion, political belief, economic or social condition’. This is a founding principle of the World Health Organisation which was set up 75 years ago. But the reality is that there is a huge disparity in access to healthcare across the world and within countries.

New Zealand is one of the many countries where this so-called ‘postcode lottery’ of care is evident. Following an extensive review which highlighted the chronic inequities in the healthcare system, particularly in relation to Maori and Pacific people, the government in April 2021 announced a major overhaul of the public health system. In July 2022 the Pae Ora (Healthy Futures) Act took effect establishing four new entities to replace the previous system which had been structured around 20 regional District Health Boards.

In episode 5 of Transformational Healthcare Leadership, Dr Mark O’Brien talks to Stephen McKernan who was tasked with leading the New Zealand Health Reform Transition Unit. In their conversation Stephen talks about the scale of the challenge and what approach he took to the design and delivery of this new system in order to create a national health system, where the treatment people get is not determined by where they live.

Digital does provide a real opportunity to transform and disrupt some of the business models and some of our historic provision that we often feel stuck and difficult to shift in healthcare systems.

Stephen was the Managing Partner of an Australasian based health consultancy and then joined EY in 2015 as an Oceania Advisory Partner and Government and Public Lead. He is very interested in what innovations are happening in other sectors and industries and thinks ‘health can and should be much more open to learning from other sectors and industries’.  

In our Transformational Healthcare Leadership podcast we are talking to leaders from across the globe about the massive disruption in ‘business as usual’ healthcare caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, the depth of the workforce exhaustion, and the wave of technological and therapeutic innovations impacting the industry. Throughout this series we will be exploring the five key themes of our Oxford Healthcare Leadership Programme: 

  • the personal leadership journey
  • understanding the evolving environment
  • effective strategy formation
  • driving innovation
  • improving performance

Mark is the programme director and has worked in healthcare since the mid-1980s. He has a lifelong passion for improving the culture and quality of healthcare, and is confident the programme will bring together great minds to help foster lasting change and innovation.