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Joint effort provides pathway to workforce

25 May 2005

Joint effort provides pathway to workforce

Bay of Plenty District Health Board and Work and Income are now offering a service to investigate healthcare options for Sickness and Invalid’s Beneficiaries that may assist people to return to the workforce quicker.

Social Development and Employment Minister Steve Maharey launched the new programme called PATHS (Providing Access To Health Solutions) in Tauranga on Thursday 15 May, which means that Western Bay people can now access a funding pool of $5.6 million shared between three regions this year.

PATHS will pay for eligible people to receive intensive physiotherapy, access to pain clinics, fitness programmes, counselling sessions, extra visits to doctors to manage chronic diseases like diabetes and asthma - and even knee and hip operations.

With PATHS, if a client has no immediate entitlement to health care or health-related interventions through the public health system, Bay of Plenty District Health Board and Work and Income investigate what healthcare options might assist the client to return to work more quickly.

Pacific Health Chief Operating Officer, Graham Dyer, says that PATHS in the Western Bay of Plenty aims to remove, reduce or manage the health problems that can prevent a person working.

“PATHS is a collaborative effort to improve the health status of our local communities, and it has opened the door for future opportunities to work with government agencies and other organisations to improve health,” says Mr Dyer.

Chair of the Bay of Plenty District Health Board, Mary Hackett, says that PATHS signals a milestone in the board’s work with the Ministry of Social Development, and she’s immensely proud of the innovative solutions that have been devised to assist people on their way to recovery.

PATHS is a key part of the Government’s new service for people receiving the Sickness and Invalid’s Benefit. The service aims to bring employment, training and health services together into one package.

Bay of Plenty District Health Board is the third health board to take on the PATHS programme after it was piloted in Counties-Manukau last year. Wellington became involved in December last year.

The number of people on sickness and invalid’s benefits in the Western Bay of Plenty has increased more than 50 per cent during the past five years. This is in line with growth in sickness and invalid’s benefits in a number of countries over the last 30 years as a result of aging populations, increased diagnosis of mental health and stress conditions, and community-based treatment of people with mental illnesses.

ENDS

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