The purpose of the HSPP is to ensure the health system is more agile, better equipped and increasingly responsive to the evolving virus that is COVID-19.

With Delta, and other new COVID-19 variants emerging, we need to protect and better prepare our health system as we look to reconnect to the world. High vaccination rates in the community will provide us with more options for sustainably managing COVID-19. As such, the public health options change from a reliance on lockdowns and strong border restrictions to include:

  • more relaxed border controls targeted to high-risk passengers
  • broader surveillance programmes
  • self-isolation models
  • more targeted public health interventions at a local and regional level.

The Health System Preparedness Programme is a significant priority for the Ministry of Health, working with the 20 district health boards in building health system readiness so it can sustainably manage COVID-19, and other pandemics or significant events that impact the health system, over the longer term.

 A key objective of this is to support the health system to better manage COVID-19 cases in the community by:

  • Keeping the number of people who get COVID-19 as low as possible
  • Meeting the health and social needs of people with COVID-19 in the home and community, with effective pathways to hospital care if needed
  • Keeping health system capacity available to manage acute and planned care.

We are working towards setting up a health system that can manage planned and acute care and the implications of COVID-19, or any pandemic, in the community. This includes: 

  • vaccination – protection for all New Zealanders (you, your whānau and your community) 
  • preparation – health system, health workforce and community partners are prepared for a sustainable response to COVID-19 – we are focused on preparing our workforce and wider healthcare system capacity and capability 
  • innovation – evolving how we respond (technology, testing and surveillance). 

Download the 'Health System Preparedness Programme' slide pack

A New Zealand health system prepared for any pandemic

The programme is supporting our health system, our workforce and all New Zealanders in our care to cope with the implications of the COVID-19 pandemic now and place us in good stead to deal with any future pandemics that we may need to manage. The programme will ensure:

  • future pandemic response is geared towards actively protecting and mitigating the impacts on Tangata Whenua and Tangata Tiriti
  • Tangata Whenua partnership and capability to support the expression of tino rangatiratanga is embedded into ways of working
  • collaboration and coordination continues across government and sectors to maximise wellbeing and achieve equitable outcomes
  • the Ministry of Health continues to be a key partner across strategic, policy, and operational activities across wellbeing domains
  • systems maintain institutional knowledge, infrastructure and resources gained through our response
  • 4lessons from COVID-19 are integrated into building a stronger health system
  • health system readiness is delivered in a culturally appropriate way that recognises and supports the expression of hauora.

Further updates on the HSPP will be provided on this page at regular intervals.

The readiness of the health system to respond to COVID-19 is a key aspect of the Reconnecting New Zealanders programme, a plan to safely open our borders. Find out more about the programme on the Unite against COVID-19 website.