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Campaign begins to put diabetes patients first

Campaign begins to put diabetes patients first

A public campaign to “Put Patients First” has been launched to stop the Hawke’s Bay District Health Board’s axing of a crucial diabetes service that is successfully changing patients’ lives.

The DHB has announced it will no longer fund the GPSI (General Practitioner Special Interest) (pronounced like gypsy) Diabetes Service despite outstanding and ongoing clinical outcomes for patients, which are also closing the inequality gap for Maori with diabetes.

Lowe Corporation Managing Director Andy Lowe, who was approached to help by his staff who have experienced the benefits of the GPSI service, is putting his support behind the campaign and is calling on the public for their help.

The group has written an open letter to all community stakeholders to join the campaign in asking the Hawke’s Bay District Health Board to revisit its decision to not renew the GPSI service, which is run by Dr Janet Titchener.

“Patients we have talked to tell us that the GPSI service has been life changing, giving them the power to live with their life long condition, instead of letting diabetes control them,” said Mr Lowe.

The GPSI contract with the DHB has been costing only $150,000 a year, representing a tiny amount of the DHB’s annual budget. This allows for about 100 patients from Wairoa to Central Hawke’s Bay to access the service.

“We have met with the DHB management to try and keep the service going in the best interest of patients. But, despite these outstanding outcomes, the DHB has told us it will no longer fund the GPSI service in order to reduce costs.

“We have asked the DHB to provide us with the evidence to support its case, but as yet we have not received any information.

“Accordingly we have requested this information under the Official Information Act as a matter of urgency given the GPSI service is only funded until March, which potentially puts patients at risk.

“I have also offered to personally pay for an independent review of the HB DHB’s costs and outcomes compared with those of the GPSI service,” said Mr Lowe.

Losing the Hawke’s Bay GPSI diabetes service is a blow to local diabetes sufferers and to community health in the region. Keeping the service running is a matter of public interest, said Mr Lowe.

Putting Patients First is planning a hui that will call on the DHB to reconsider its short-sighted decision. A date will be confirmed shortly.

Members of the public can join the campaign by registering at
There is a Facebook page for supporters of GPSI

The GPSI Diabetes Service has been supported by the Hawke’s Bay District Health Board for the past 8 years. The service is provided from multiple locations within the community.

Patients are referred into the service by their general practitioner. Using a patient centred model of care, each person is seen for a series of appointments in quick succession with the goal of empowering each person with the skills to self-manage their own diabetes. The patient is then discharged from the service back to the care of their GP.

Anyone with type 2 diabetes who attends the GPSI Service has both immediate and long-term improvements in their diabetes control as measured by a blood test called an HbA1c. Based on international data, a person who reduces their HbA1c by 10 mmol/mol will cut health care costs by over 37%. Patients who attend the GPSI Diabetes Service experience, on average, a decrease in HbA1c twice this – 20 mmol/mol.

For every year that a person holds a 10 mmol/mol reduction in their HbA1c they are 30% less likely to develop kidney disease, have a heart attack or a stroke and have a 22% reduction in their risk of going blind or losing their legs. At the GPSI Diabetes Service we don’t just have a 10 mmol/mol reduction in HbA1c but a 20 mmol/mol reduction.

Maori and Pacific Island people seen in the GPSI Diabetes Service do even better, essentially closing the ethnic gap in diabetes care. Maori referred to the GPSI Diabetes Service start out with HbA1c values 20 mmol/mol higher than European New Zealanders. However, immediately after they have attended the service, this ethnic disparity in HbA1c disappears.

Community based, patient centred care that empowers patients to self-manage their own disease are all the healthcare parameters the Ministry of Health espouses to ensure that care is successful for all patients regardless of ethnicity, cost effective and accessible to all patients. The GPSI Diabetes Service fulfils all of these parameters, yet the Hawkes Bay DHB chooses to discontinue the service


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