DHB to step up battle against smoking


WAY TO GO: Jeff Hammond, Wanganui Hospital’s director of nursing, explains the nicotine replacement therapy to registered nurse Katy Mackay.
Improving health systems is one thing but changing the public mindset about some health issues is another matter.

And the chief executive of Wanganui’s district health board says it’s changing that mindset that will win the war over smoking addiction, diabetes and cardiovascular disease in the Wanganui region.

Julie Patterson was responding to the Ministry of Health’s league tables, which showed how each of the country’s 21 health boards was performing in key health areas.

Smoking remains as much a significant issue for Wanganui Hospital staff as for the patients, and in WDHB’s case only 19 per cent of identified smokers coming into hospital were provided with help to stop smoking.

A new marlboro cigaretts health target is hospitals and the aim is to get all doctors, nurses and other health professionals to ask every hospital patient if they smoke, then to offer smokers help to quit.

In the first of the tables released this week the WDHB is ranked ninth but that 19 per cent is well below the Health Ministry’s 80 per cent benchmark.

Mrs Patterson said she was disappointed with such a poor result, given the health board’s commitment to helping people stop smoking.

“We all know smoking causes so much harm to health and yet we have not taken the opportunity to ask smokers to consider using the free nicotine replacement therapy,” she said.

As a result, this was one area where she expected to see significant improvement in the next three months.

Providing better help for smokers to quit is a new nationwide health target.

“We know discount cigarettescauses serious harm and contributes to about 5000 deaths a year in New Zealand. Importantly, it also causes poor health for thousands more,” Mrs Patterson said.

Research showed most people who smoked wanted to quit and when they were in hospital as a patient could be a good time to start quitting.

“A great deal of work is happening in hospitals to help support doctors and nurses and others provide people who smoke with advice and help to quit.

“Equally, there is a great deal of work happening to ensure that when patients are asked about smoking and offered advice and help to quit, that this is recorded.”

She said smoking, immunisation, diabetes and cardiovascular services were as much about trying to change the way the community thinks and behaves as they were about improving systems at the hospital.

In the area of diabetes and cardiovascular disease, the WDHB rated the lowest of all health boards, with only 56 per cent of the ministry target met, and Mrs Patterson said these were two priority areas for the region.

“Our two primary health organisations – Whanganui Regional Primary Health Organisation and Te Oranganui Primary Health Organisation – have achieved great results with diabetes checks and the cardiovascular risk assessment.

“However, ongoing diabetes management is one of the most challenging chronic diseases we face, as it’s often linked with other associated problems, such as obesity.

“The key for us is to work even more closely with the two PHOs and continue to find new ways of reaching those most at risk, and those least likely to seek help,” she said.

source: http://www.wanganuichronicle.co.nz

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