In 2007 Canterbury’s health system was under pressure and beginning to look unsustainable. New Zealanders living in Canterbury faced growing hospital admissions, growing waiting times and an ageing population. The Canterbury District Health Board (CDHB), the planner and funder and main provider of health services in Canterbury, realised that if the region continued to deliver services in the same way, by 2020 it would need to double its workforce and physical capacity; if business as usual continued, Canterbury would need another large hospital, 20 per cent more GPs and 2,000 more aged residential care beds.
Health leaders realised that they needed to do things differently. Canterbury's health services came together to develop a shared vision for the future: one integrated health system that keeps Cantabrians healthy in their own homes by ensuring the right care is provided, in the right place, at the right time, by the right person. The new way forward aimed to better integrate and coordinate primary, secondary and tertiary health services through health alliancing and new ways of contracting.
With the development of the shared vision and the empowerment of teams at all levels and from across the system to be innovative, the Canterbury health system started to recreate its future. A number of Canterbury's Service Providers signed a District Alliance Agreement, committing to work together for the people of Canterbury. The alliance agreement became the platform for the Canterbury health system's journey towards rapid large-scale transformation.