Keeping up the pace

4 September 2017

CE Jim Green


There is so much happening in our health services in Tairāwhiti at present that it is sometimes difficult to keep up.

I'm not referring here to the actual pace of people coming to need care in the primary sector, with our Hauora Tairāwhiti community based services, or to the hospital.

While that continues to be a cause for concern and action, I am pleased there are also plenty of actions looking at medium to longer term solutions as well.

A good example is the research being done by Otago and Auckland University teams in conjunction with Ngāti Porou Hauora.

In an inspiring session on Tuesday, the researchers made a series of presentations entitled “Chasing the Taniwha” which looked at the profile of ill health for Māori, with a genomics focus. We already know the value unlocking the genetic code of individuals - or in this case groups of individuals - can have in the targeting of care and treatments for certain populations, or even right down to each person.

The research is showing the pre-dispositions to certain conditions that relate to gene make-up, while at the same time some populations also have genes that reduce the likelihood of other conditions.

An individual’s genetic profile can be applied to specific treatments, so that only effective treatments for that person are utilised. This technique that is already in use in cancer treatment and will be expanded further in the near future to improve effectiveness, and reduce waste in treatments given, but not likely to be useful.

The researchers are keen to expand their activities in Tairāwhiti to the wider population. The benefit of that will not only include better targeted care but stimulation of our local budding scientists and some revenue generation for the district.

Another example was the opening ceremony for Te Kuwatawata, our new service for a single point of access to all mental health services in Tairāwhiti. The new service is actually a coming together of the current primary mental health services with those provided through Hauora Tairāwhiti, with added in additional positions to make for a more responsive service to people in distress, and their families/whānau.

The service is a joint venture between Te Kupenga Net Trust (our local consumer lead organisation), Pinnacle Midlands Health Network and Hauora Tairāwhiti. It is based out of rooms at 73 Peel Street.

I thoroughly recommend stopping by there to meet the team and hear directly of what they will be achieving. With better, faster access to care and a wider variety of care options: we really have even more capacity for care in our community.

To hear and see about these developments we had the Director General of Health Chai Chuah and two of his team members, Jill Lane and Alison Thom here on Tuesday to talk to the Board, plus various other groups such as our PHO partners, iwi providers and Hauora Tairāwhiti clinicians.

It was an essential opportunity to speak frankly about the challenges we face on a daily basis to ensure people get the care they need, to talk about the ways in which additional resources are needed to improve care further - and to show that we are not standing still, that we have ideas and we are implementing them.

Feedback from the Ministry team was of the initiatives they saw, the commitment of people and the reality of the size of the issues we face. People are aware, they are much more so when they come and talk first hand with people who experience this on a daily basis.

This week I am going to have the opportunity to spend time with my national Chief Executive colleagues. I expect to hear talk of the same pressures we face, however also to provide and share some solutions.

Have a good week everyone.