Pressure on health system

A big jump in population in the Nelson Marlborough region, probably due to the Christchurch earthquake, will continue to put pressure on health services in the next year.

The Nelson Marlborough District Health Board's 2012-13 annual plan shows the population growth has created challenges for the ongoing delivery of health services.

The population growth has mainly been in the over 45 age group, resulting in an increased demand. The annual plan sets out that the DHB plans to obtain a break-even or better than break-even position to finish the 2013 financial year with a $55,000 surplus.

This is in contrast to this financial year, with a forecast deficit of $960,000.

"In order to deliver this plan with no deficit, we have had to review all our funding decisions very carefully to ensure that resources are allocated to the highest priorities," the plan said.

The total funding allocated for health services throughout the district for 2012-13 is $416 million. DHB chief executive John Peters said the focus of the plan was to accelerate the pace of change in achieving the Government's objectives of improved health.

"[This will be done] through a more responsive, interconnected system of health, disability and support care, while living within our means."

There would also be an investment in the health service to older people, with a focus on dementia; child and youth services, with mental health services for youth as a priority; and enhanced services for people with multiple long-term conditions, Mr Peters said.

The plan shows that Nelson Marlborough has a population of 139,900, with Marlborough and Nelson home to 33 per cent each and Tasman 34 per cent.

Compared to the rest of New Zealand, the DHB has a high incidence of chronic lung disease, chronic pain and dementia, intellectual and physical disability; a high personal injury and accident rate; a high incidence of obesity in Maori men, but fewer people overall classified as overweight and obese; one of the longest life expectancy at birth rates, and one of the most active populations in New Zealand.

The plan, signed off by Health Minister Tony Ryall, continues to address the Government's health priorities.

These include shorter stays in emergency departments, improved access to elective surgery, shorter waits for cancer treatment, increased immunisation, better help for smokers to quit and more heart and diabetes checks.

The Marlborough Express