Warning: This story may be distressing for some readers
A 14-year-old Māori girl in desperate need of mental health support finally reached out for help but has been told she had to wait four weeks for care.
By then, there's a high chance it will be too late.
Her story is just one of many that gets Whangārei nurse Terryann Clark angry at New Zealand's health system.
Clark is "incredibly hopeful" this new health shake-up will fix those deadly failures.
She stressed the country had good clinicians who worked incredibly hard but it was the system that was overwhelmed and disjointed.
This morning Health Minister Andrew Little unveiled the major changes that will see the country's 20 DHBs culled and replaced with a national health body due to come into effect July next year.
The major announcements are:
• All DHBs will be replaced by one national health body, Health New Zealand, to fund and run the health system
• A new Māori health authority will be created, with power to commission health services
• The Ministry of Health will become an advisory and policy agency only
• A new Public Health agency will be created within the Ministry of Health
Clark, who is also an associate professor at the University of Auckland and was involved in the Youth19 research, was critical of the current system saying there was too much variability and health agencies weren't being held to account.
"We have 20 different DHBs with 20 different rules....there's been no national standard of care."
Clark said she could think of lots of examples of parents trying to get their children help and because they weren't "critical enough" they get bumped down the list and then it becomes too late.
The 14-year-old was just one example, she said.
"She was dropping out of school, getting into trouble, clearly having a tough time at home and the school just wanted to kick her out.
"The services weren't available, eventually the parents had to pay heaps for her to see a GP and then she finally gets referred to a specialist but has to wait four weeks."
That's why we see so many suicides, she said.
Now, Clark says she has been given new hope. "There's really big gains here, especially for Māori."
She said the concerns around the extra bureaucracy that could come from a national body and the neglect of regional priorities was "totally legitimate".
"But I understand that's what the regional commissioners that will be located in each area will be there for. To put a plan together for each region's priorities."
Where to get help:
• Lifeline: 0800 543 354 (available 24/7)
• Suicide Crisis Helpline: 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO) (available 24/7)
• Youth services: (06) 3555 906
• Youthline: 0800 376 633
• Kidsline: 0800 543 754 (available 24/7)
• Whatsup: 0800 942 8787 (1pm to 11pm)
• Depression helpline: 0800 111 757 (available 24/7)
• Rainbow Youth: (09) 376 4155
• Helpline: 1737
If it is an emergency and you feel like you or someone else is at risk, call 111.