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Improving West Coast access to care and the journey for individuals and families with diabetes, prediabetes and high...

Primary care
22 June 2018

The West Coast of the South Island of New Zealand is a long narrow strip of land approximately 500 kilometres in length. The population of 30,000 is spread thinly over this region with 20,000 concentrated in four towns (Westport, Reefton, Greymouth and Hokitika) in the centre of the region. The community has significant poverty, health literacy issues, a low level of educational achievement and unemployment.

Despite the West Coast primary health organisation (PHO) having all but one of its’ contracted providers as Very Low Cost Access providers, the community has difficulties accessing health care due to financial reasons, a reduced GP clinical workforce and considerable staff turnover (due to GP locums) which disrupts continuity of care. Added to this are the significant travel distances which impose an extra cost to health care, both for the providers and the residents.

‘We have identified 1200 people who meet the diagnostic criteria for diabetes and a further 1200 who have pre-diabetes,’ says Helen Reriti, executive officer at West Coast PHO.

‘Our project stakeholders are diverse but we’ve banded together to focus on co-ordinating our fragmented services into a cohesive suite of services that our community can easily understand and access as they learn to manage their pre-diabetes and diabetes. We want our community to be able to receive evidence based care in a timely, convenient and person-focused way which will prevent development of diabetes and limit the complications of the disease.’

Project stakeholders include:

  • consumer representatives
  • West Coast PHO clinical team and health navigators
  • dietitians from West Coast PHO and district health board (DHB)
  • general practice representatives
  • local Māori health and social service provider, Poutini Waiora
  • West Coast DHB specialist diabetic service
  • West Coast DHB planning and funding department.