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Canterbury Health System Achieving Health Targets But Faces

The Canterbury Health System has regained pre-quake levels in some of its health targets and achieved or even surpassed others but still faces ongoing quake related challenges.

Latest figures, outlining the region’s performance against national health targets for the period October 1 to December 31, 2011, show a health system committed to delivering a world class service despite the ongoing challenges in post-quake Canterbury.

David Meates, Canterbury District Health Board chief executive, says achieving the targets is stunning and reflects the absolute commitment from everyone working in the Canterbury Health System to meet the needs of the community.

However, the significant levels of damage, required repairs and the ongoing emergence of issues will make the continued achievement of targets increasingly challenging, Mr Meates says.

“For example, Parkside block at Christchurch Hospital, which contains 24 operating theatres and undertakes 20,000 operations per year, will be a building site for the next 18-24 months creating a very challenging environment,” he says.

“One year on from the devastating February 2011, earthquake many people have adapted to the ‘new normal’ however, the Canterbury Health System is still under considerable stress and with winter just around the corner, we are looking at a range of strategies to help keep people healthy and independent in the community and out of hospital.”

Mr Meates says recent building closures, such as the operating theatres at Ashburton Hospital, and the ongoing impact of disruptive building repairs, means that achieving the national Health Targets is becoming increasingly difficult when the Canterbury Health System is constantly faced with logistical challenges such as those posed when recently temporarily relocating the Child Health Oncology Centre (CHOC).

“In Ashburton the team had an endoscopy suite up and running less than three weeks after the theatre was closed. The relocation of CHOC has also had had a flow-on effect on the type of paediatric surgery we can carry out while the paediatric inpatient service is in a temporary location,” Mr Meates says.

“However, staff are pulling out all the stops to ensure patients continue to have timely access to services and because of our unique challenges, I really appreciate the extra effort staff are putting in to meet the targets. Despite our bumpy path to recovery, we are very pleased with our sustained performance against the National Health Targets.”

Two areas where performance has improved since the last quarter are in the Better Diabetes and Cardiovascular services and Better Help for Smoker to Quit.

An all-time high of 68 percent of people with diabetes receiving an annual review has been achieved as a result of increased delivery of diabetes annual reviews by general practices and the Diabetes Centre. There have been increases across all ethnicities, particularly among Māori (up 11 percent to 69 percent) and Pacific people (up 17 percent to 63 percent) people.

Although the 95 percent national target of hospitalised smokers receiving help and advice to quit is yet to be reached (Canterbury achieved 79 percent over the review period), a focus on clinical leadership, training and monitoring is having an impact. An 82 percent result was achieved for December, the highest monthly result to date.

“We will continue to strive to improve on these targets as our city and hospitals are repaired and rebuilt,” Mr Meates says.

Canterbury has:
• Achieved the ED Health Target for the fourth consecutive quarter, with 95 percent of people admitted or discharged within 6 hours;
• Achieved the Cancer Radiation Therapy Health Target for the third consecutive quarter, with 100 percent of patients beginning radiation therapy treatment within 4 weeks of their specialist assessment;
• Achieved the year-to-date Elective Services Health Target, delivering 8,188 elective surgical discharges during the six months to December 2011;
• Maintained Immunisation Health Target performance at pre-quake levels, with 92 percent of all two year olds fully immunised, and increased rates for Māori (94 percent) and Pacific children (96 percent);
• Maintained pre-quake CVD Health Target levels, with 72 percent of the eligible adult population having had a fasting-lipid or glucose test, and achieving higher than pre-quake levels for Māori and Pacific people.

More specific information on each of the health targets can be found on the Ministry of Health’s website at



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