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Distance judgement faulty says DHB

5 February 2008

Distance judgement faulty says DHB

The National Party health spokesperson has given a clear demonstration of the dangers of distance judgement and should look harder before jumping to erroneous conclusions, says Wairarapa DHB CEO David Meates.

“It is nonsense to suggest that ‘bureaucracy is ballooning while performance is shrinking’ in the Wairarapa,” he says. “The Wairarapa DHB now has better access to health services than ever before. On top of the 33 full time equivalent medical positions at Wairarapa DHB, there are 26 visiting specialists who now provide a wide range of services at Wairarapa hospital – services which residents have often had to travel out of the region to receive in the past.

In addition to this, we have redesigned our radiology services so that we have 24 hour cover provided by 13 radiologists from outside the Wairarapa. This has brought a considerable increase in medical skills and expertise to the region.”

“These and other innovative changes in service delivery models mean that we have seen a 32% increase in elective services over recent years. In fact, the Wairarapa is now often quoted as a model of an efficiently run District Health Board,” says Mr Meates. “Our latest Annual Report describes how we have provided for 8.4% more emergency department attendances, 10% more outpatient attendances, 11% more births, 24% more joint replacements, and 53% more cataract operations.”

The increase in administration numbers over the last 7 years includes the break-up of Regional Health Authorities, and the devolution of those functions to the local DHBs. In the Wairarapa, this meant 11 new positions in 2001, to manage the planning and funding of around $103 million of health dollars for the Wairarapa District Health Board. Other positions include those involved in supporting the direct delivery of health care like the smoke free co-ordinator, the family violence intervention coordinator, the volunteer coordinator, and the elective services analyst.

“This media release is not a fair reflection of reality,” says Mr Meates. “It is important to look beneath statistics and focus on what is really happening. Statistics will only answer the question asked, not present the full picture. Overall, people in the Wairarapa now have better access to health services, and over the last 5 years, the percentage of management staff has actually dropped.”


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