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Minister Offered Cost-Effective Solutions

NEWS RELEASE New Zealand Society of Physiotherapists

Physiotherapists Offer Minister Cost-Effective Solutions

Physiotherapists are offering the Minister of Health, Pete Hodgson, solutions to some of the problems he identified in a speech on 30 June about improving cost-effectiveness in health – a speech which they describe as “extremely important: wide-ranging and far-sighted”.

“We can help him bring those hospital admissions down,” promised Jon Warren, President of the New Zealand Society of Physiotherapists, referring to the avoidable admissions Mr Hodgson mentioned in his speech. “Physiotherapists can play an important part in preventing admissions for three of the five leading types: heart attacks, stroke, and lung problems,” said Mr Warren.

“Here’s an example of cost-effectiveness for the Minister! Physiotherapists already lead rehabilitation programmes, after a hospital admission, to bring down the rate of readmission. Physiotherapists at Christchurch Hospital have developed a Heart Failure Rehabilitation Programme designed for the particular need of these patients. Readmissions to hospital account for 75% of the cost of treating heart failure. We suggest there should be more such programmes. There is good evidence for the effectiveness of the physiotherapy-led Falls Prevention Programme developed by a physiotherapist at Otago University for frail elderly people – maintaining their mobility and independence.

“We can also help the patients with high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity and arthritis become active so they can avoid heart attacks and strokes in the first place. Doctors are giving out Green Prescriptions encouraging their patients to get active, in line with the Healthy Eating, Healthy Action programme which aims for all New Zealanders to be more active. Unfortunately, a Green Prescription just doesn’t cut it for some of the people who most urgently need to get moving – not because they don’t want to, but because their health problems make them afraid of any exercise.

“Give us these patients! In many cases, just one session with a physiotherapist would enable such patients to get active. The physiotherapist would assess their health needs, develop a realistic individual activity programme with them, reassure them, tell them what to do and what to avoid, and what to watch out for. This would help narrow the equity gap emphasised by Mr Hodgson, since Maori and Pacific Islanders are high on the list of sufferers from high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity.

“Some physiotherapists also help people with breathing problems and lung diseases to lead a more active life and stay out of hospital. Some help people regain bladder control, allowing them to be more active and more social.”

Physiotherapists are being used very successfully (mostly overseas) to cut down orthopaedic waiting lists and orthopaedic admissions to hospital, Mr Warren said.


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