Extensive improvements are already under way and others are in the pipeline for public health services in Taranaki.
An outline of the changes and investigations was tabled at last week's meeting of the joint Taranaki District Health Board's community, public health and disability support advisory committees.
The Taranaki board is now part of a Midland regional group and many of the changes will allow the region's services to link better with the Waikato DHB.
The regional clinical services plan for the five Midland DHBs has the approval from the Minister of Health and four project managers have been appointed to lead it, planning and funding manager Sandra Boardman said.
And work is well under way for the much-needed integrated computer system which will link primary and secondary health care providers throughout Midland, hopefully by June 2014.
Once up and running, it aims to have major health sites connected allowing them to work through a secure data network using voice, video and email services.
The committees were told the project was proceeding to plan.
A central cancer network forum's activities and plans are to be shared with Taranaki and is aimed at speeding up cancer treatments within the region.
A Taranaki Alliance Leadership Team has been established to oversee the implementation of Midland's processes.
A Waikato-based dermatologist, Dr Amanda Oakley, who pioneered the use of telemedicine in Taranaki was currently working on improving the technology link between Waikato and Taranaki Base hospitals.
Meetings are to be held between clinical staff and management from both Base Hospital and Hawera Hospital to look into expanding the use of the tool.
Changes to the way older people are cared for - as well as those with complex, long-term health conditions - are being rolled out.
Care managers, whose job is to co-ordinate the assessment and care of those with high and complex needs, have now been appointed. Further work is currently under way to align the new system with GP practices.
A contractor has been employed to investigate palliative care within the region to ensure it is meeting the New Zealand Palliative Care Strategy.
In Taranaki's case, it will identify the ways which the board works with Hospice Taranaki and other palliative care providers.
Palliative services should include specialist care, hospital palliative care teams, develop quality requirements and ensure workforce training, involve public education, paediatric care and income support.
A youth health strategy is also under development for the region.
To date 80 young Taranaki people have been interviewed. They identified substance abuse, sexual and mental health services as priority areas for them. The strategy was expected to be completed by the end of this month.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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