OPINION: No matter how well they are planned, transitions rarely go as smoothly as hoped.
So, perhaps we need to cut those associated with the new oral health "hubs", which have been set up to transform school dentistry, a little slack. A little, but not much more.
Without drilling deeper into the hows and whys of what has gone wrong, it does seem troubling that about 40 per cent of children in Nelson and Marlborough are long overdue for their regular dental checkups.
The local district health board describes the delays of between nine and 12 months as a "hump" that will be resolved – in time. It needs to make up that time as quickly as it can – to get buzzing, in other words.
The decision to scrap the time-honoured school-based system was always controversial.
The delays can only add to the angst. As Clifton Terrace School principal Rob Wemyss puts it, "we had a system that was working very, very well".
"It's just not good enough that we now have kids in a situation where they're missing out on oral health." Hear hear.
Five central hubs – one each in Nelson, Stoke, Richmond, Motueka and Blenheim – have replaced 37 fixed school dental clinics.
This was to "get from an old-fashioned system to be in line with contemporary dentistry", the board's community-based director Peter Burton says.
Presumably a translation from the health-speak is that the new system's main attraction is that it costs less.
Health budgets are under enormous pressures, and efficiency is not necessarily a dirty word. We all want to see more people receiving the most up-to-date treatment possible and waiting lists reduced, without putting unnecessary strain on the taxpayer.
Perhaps the new school oral health hubs will play their part in achieving a better service for children.
However, it is not off to a good start, and this undermines confidence in the new Health Ministry-driven system.
Mr Burton offers some reassurance, however, in stating that parents of children lingering on the waiting list as things slowly gear up can contact their local hub directly and get an appointment if they have specific concerns.
Let's never lose sight of the needs of patients against the other imperative, of seeking excellence on the balance sheet. Salute to a hero Phew. He made it. John Beeching's plight touched many hearts. The same combination of tenacity, boldness and luck that helped him beat huge odds as a bomber pilot 70 years ago during World War II, was evident this year as he battled bureaucracy, prompted a major fundraising effort and took his rightful place at yesterday's special commemoration ceremony. That Mr Beeching was given a front row seat for the unveiling in London of the Bomber Command Memorial seems fitting as an extraordinary life enters its final chapters.
Nelson people and businesses raised $20,000 to get him to Britain when neither the New Zealand nor British governments, nor the Royal Air Force with whom he once repeatedly risked his life, were prepared to help.
For a while he faced being snubbed. Instead – thanks in no small part to Nelson generosity – he received the hero's treatment he deserved.
- © Fairfax NZ News