Andrew Little named as New Zealand's next health minister

Former Labour Party leader and justice minister Andrew Little has been named as New Zealand's next Minister for Health in the Ardern government's new cabinet.

Infectious diseases specialist Ayesha Verrall has been fast-tracked into an associate ministerial position with a focus on public health, with Peeni Henare keeping his position as associate minister for Maori health.

Chris Hipkins, who took over the health portfolio from the gaffe-prone David Clark in July, retains his main position as education minister but has also been given a new portfolio overseeing the Covid-19 response.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the next three years will be very challenging for New Zealand.

“With the global outlook worsening we won’t be immune to the ongoing impact Covid is having around the world,” Ms Ardern said.

“With this in mind the new Labour government will have two overarching priorities: to drive our economic recovery from Covid-19, and to continue our health response to keep New Zealanders safe from the virus.”

Ms Ardern said Mr Hipkins' new COVID-19 response role will give him responsibility for all aspects of the ongoing response, including the running of managed isolation facilities, border defences as well as the health response, including testing and contact tracing systems and managing any resurgence of the virus.

“Andrew Little will become the Minister of Health, driving overdue reforms of the system aimed at improving health outcomes for all New Zealanders,” she said. “He will be supported by Peeni Henare and Dr Ayesha Verrall who will focus on Maori health and public health respectively.”

Mr Little said he would spend the next couple of weeks “reading, reading, reading”.

"If we're thinking long term, we really have to drive change in the system because we know some populations are not getting the level of treatment and service they need,” he told RNZ.

"Taking hold of the Simpson report and now really starting to drive that change is going to be vital."

Posted in Movers and shakers

Tags: Andrew Little

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