'Timely access' to GP and primary care on the West Coast are among the priorities identified by a health locality pilot for the region in the wake of the abolishment of its district health board 12 months ago.
The findings gathered through the Takiwā Poutini Localities Prototype - underway for a year - highlight health aspirations in the region following a range of public consultations.
Those key findings were presented to senior management of both Te Whatu Ora (Health NZ) and Te Aka Whai Ora (Māori Health Authority) in Greymouth last Friday, Takiwā governance group chair Kevin Hague said.
"Equity and access to health and well-being services are significantly challenging to solve," he said.
The West Coast was chosen as one of 12 health locality pilot areas in the lead up to the merger of all former health board administrations into the centralised Health NZ or Māori Health Authority structures last June.
Hague said Poutini communities had identified several key themes as priorities via the locality pilot work to date:
- Timely access to consistent GP and primary care
- Reduction of transport and cost of care as barriers to access
- Whānau-centred approach to health care and well-being service provision
- Civil defence and preparedness for natural disaster and emergencies and the need for community preparedness for events
- Identification of outdoor and recreational activities benefiting health
- A need for community meeting spaces with cultural connection
Hague said the Takiwā Poutini region had "unique challenges" in its geography and demographics.
"Te Tai o Poutini/West Coast covers more than 30,000km and we have a very small population largely based around small rural towns, with no public transport and a number of socio-economic challenges," he said.
Takiwā Poutini's key findings, "for such a big transformation" and presented to Health NZ and the Maori Health Authority, were also a useful opportunity to tap into what other localities had found so far.
The pilot was set up to identify changes needed to improve health and well-being outcomes, including finding new ways of working that put communities at the centre of design and planning.
Te Whatu Ora national localities co-director Kylie Ormrod said gaining insight into the health and well-being of communities on the West Coast was important.
"By prioritising local needs and aspirations, localities like Takiwā Poutini are shaping a healthcare system that is equitable for all, regardless of where they live or who they are," she said.
Takiwā Poutini had done a huge amount of work to get to this point.
"We acknowledge them and will continue to support them as they influence the reorientation of our healthcare system to deliver for the community," Ormrod said.
Hague said the key points were gained through 20 'drop in' sessions region-wide over two months, where people could offer their opinion on what would improve their own well-being and that of their whānau and community.
"These were augmented by focus groups with any groups that seemed under-reflected in the general process."
That included iwi, the LGBT community and the disability sector.
"We also had an online questionnaire and a 'do it yourself' kit that groups could take and run their own meetings, as well as piggybacking on other groups' meetings."
However more comprehensive work and analysis was ongoing, Hague said.
Local Democracy Reporting is Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air.