Mahitahi Hauora- The latest health service shake up to Te Taitokerau

Launched at the end of June,  Mahitahi Hauora is the primary care entity replacing Te Tai Tokerau and Manaia Health Primary Health Organisations across Northland. The merger is the biggest shake-up of primary health in Northland since PHOs were created in 2001.

Symbolising a renewed commitment to partnership between General Practice, Māori Health Providers, Iwi and Northland District Health Board, the establishment of Mahitahi Hauora intends to deliver on commitments made in the Tiriti o Waitangi.

As well as making better use of scarce resources, Mahitahi Hauora aims to do more to tackle the ”determinants of health” — the social, economic, environmental factors that lead to poor health — instead of just trying to fix the illnesses that result.

Mahitahi Hauora chief executive Phillip Balmer, previously the chief operating officer at Counties Manukau District Health Board, said people with health and social issues currently had to deal with about 10 different agencies.

“The significant change also includes a broader focus on addressing the wider determinants of wellbeing, including social, economic, and environmental factors. We will be working with local communities and develop clinical networks to ensure we are providing more comprehensive services to meet those community’s needs,” Balmer said.

The purpose of Mahitahi Hauora is to support a primary healthcare system that sustains equitable, self-determined wellbeing and ensures every person has an opportunity to live a long healthy life. 

Mahitahi Hauora will be the single primary care entity responsible for allocating resources to priorities that whānau, communities and providers identify via locality driven planning. 

“Workforce growth and retention is another focus given the wide range of factors that make it hard to attract and retain clinical staff and more particularly medical staff to the region. We need to better support our General Practitioners, Nursing, and Allied Health workforces.” 

Mahitahi Hauora has 80 direct employees and allocates about $60 million in funding each year to 42 medical practices, employing 182 GPs, and Māori health providers. Its chairman is Eru Lyndon, who is also Northland’s regional commissioner for social development.