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Positive response to Health Service Needs plan

Rural communities give positive response to Health Service Needs plan

Rural communities in Tasman gave an overall positive response to the future direction for the Nelson Marlborough health system as presented at public meetings held in Murchison, Motueka and Golden Bay this week.

Audiences heard information about the current health of our population, through data compiled in the Health Needs Assessment (HNA), and the overall intended direction of current and future health service provision to the community.

Board Chair, Jenny Black opened the meetings by assuring the communities that the Board had not made any decisions on the Health Services Plan and they were keen to hear what they had to say.

“We are a health board and we are mandated to look after the health of our community and keep people out of hospital,” she said. “We want to provide a great health system, and to go from good to great, we need your help.”

NMDHB Chief Executive Chris Fleming presented the draft Nelson Marlborough Health Services Plan based on the findings of a Health Needs Assessment,developed and written by Ernst & Young ( formerly HealthPartners Consulting Group) on behalf of the Nelson Marlborough DHB.

While the general population growth for Nelson, Tasman and Marlborough remains low at 11.5 percent, 9.6 percent and 5.3 percent respectively, the rate of growth for aged 75-plus is at staggering levels. Predicted rates for Marlborough and Nelson are at 130 percent while Tasman has the highest projected growth in this elderly age group at 180 percent.

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“This means in 20 years time, we will have fewer young people and fewer working people compared to the elderly population in Nelson Marlborough,” said Chief Executive Chris Fleming.

He said leaving services as they are is not an option as the organisation cannot afford to grow infrastructure and services to meet the expected population demands in future.

“We are the current custodians of the health service, but it will be future generations who will reap the benefits, or suffer the consequences of the decisions we make now about how we configure the infrastructure that’s going to serve our community,” he said. “Planning health services, especially with the burgeoning numbers of those in the 75+ age group, requires careful consideration, which is why we need to hear from our communities, so we get it right.” he says

A common issue raised at the Murchison, Golden Bay and Motueka meetings was around access to health services and the difficulties associated with the need to travel to see specialists at Nelson and Wairau Hospitals.

Fleming identified the establishment of a ‘tele presence’ in smaller communities in future planning that could bring services closer to home and reduce the environmental, and social, impact of people having to travel to specialist or outpatient appointments.

“We need to use technology to bring services closer to people in our outlying communities rather than having to bring people in to our services,” he says. “By re-engineering our workforce we can have someone attending an appointment by telehealth, with a support person alongside to help translate.”

He says the Board needs to make some significant investment decisions within the next 12 months. Both in how much it is going to invest in bricks and mortar, and how much in Information Technology or IT.

“We also need to identify what the priorities are in our workforce planning and what we’re going to invest discretionary funds in.”

Fleming says a primary and community strategy is still to be developed with the Board’s primary and community partners.

“We must invest more in health promotion and prevention strategies, create new and innovative primary and community services, and target secondary services with staff working at the top of their scopes of practice.

“Engaging with the community is important, especially when it comes to planning future primary and community services.”

At the start of the meetings Andrew Lesperance, General Manager for Strategy, Planning and Alliance Support shared the data from the Health Needs Assessment (HNA). The HNA covers information including demographics, life expectancy, risk factors, access to primary health care and emergency department, and comparisons with the national average.

Lesperence spoke about the population statistics and health statistics for Nelson Marlborough community, where the challenges are and how the Board has interpreted those challenges into strategic priorities. Nelson Marlborough represents 3.2 percent of the New Zealand population with 144, 500 people in the Nelson Tasman and Marlborough.

Feedback from all the meetings will be reviewed and will help formulate future directions about the services NMDHB provides.

Feedback on the meetings can be submitted to comms@nmdhb.govt.nz until 5pm 30 October.


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