Campaign targets Wellington smokers
GPs are contacting Wellington's 37,000 smokers with advice on quitting in a bid to cash in on Government targets.
Primary care organisations had until July 1 to offer advice on quitting to 90 per cent of patients who are current smokers.
Letters were sent and a local call centre was launched, but fewer than half of the 37,805 current smokers on GPs' books in Wellington, Porirua, Kapiti and the Hutt Valley had been given advice at the end of March.
The four primary healthcare organisations in the Capital & Coast District Health Board area were ranked in the top 10 for giving advice on quitting smoking, but they were well below the 90 per cent target.
Hutt Valley's only PHO placed 15 out of the country's 35 PHOs.
Porirua GP Larry Jordan said the push to get patients to quit smoking had placed pressure on doctors and nurses, but it had encouraged people to quit the habit that kills 5000 New Zealanders every year.
Increasing the price of cigarettes also had a ''significant effect'' on getting people to give up, Mr Jordan said.
The Government announced a 40 per cent rise in tobacco prices over four years earlier this year.
A $16 pack will rise to $20.50 by 2016, taking a single cigarette to more than $1.
Capital and Coast's Well Health Trust PHO ranked third nationally after running a six-month pilot programme in two out of its four practices, which involved quit coaches giving advice to patients.
''It's very easy to do the brief advice but for many they need some intensive cessation support and that does need resources,'' chief executive Justine Thorpe said.
She said the ''minimal'' amount awarded for reaching targets ''wasn't near the cost of giving an extra service''.
Additional funding is available under the PHO Performance Programme to reward PHOs for reaching targets relating to increased immunisation, better help for smokers to quit, and more heart and diabetes checks, DHB Shared Services said.
More than $18 million was distributed to PHOs for reaching targets in the 2010/11 financial year, national services manager Jon Shapleski said.
Just over $27 million was distributed the year before.
Compass Health opened a call centre in April to help GPs contact patients who were smokers.
Seven staff called patients in the area from Wellington to Manawatu and the Wairarapa offering brief advice.
Quitline had a nationwide increase in the number of referrals from GPs since an automated referral service was launched in conjunction with the smoking advice target, a spokeswoman said.
Health professionals referred 37 patients to Quitline in April, compared to 136 in June.
If the patient agrees, they are signed up for a three month support programme and offered online, text and phone based support.
- © Fairfax NZ News
Do you always wear a helmet while cycling?Related story: Cyclists creative on cycle helmet waivers