Help to quit leads Bay health ranking

By Kiri Gillespie


More support is being offered to Tauranga smokers trying to quit as local health authorities make major improvements in their health targets.

Bay of Plenty District Health Board and Western Bay of Plenty Primary Health Organisation made significant gains in the anti-smoking goal and also climbed in achieving more immunisation for 8-month-olds in third-quarter 2012/13 targets.

The board climbed from eighth to third out of New Zealand's 20 DHBs for helping smokers quit, a 37.7 per cent increase from the previous quarter and the country's largest improvement.

Board chief executive Phil Cammish said in the previous quarter the board rose from 12th to eighth position on the league table and had "sustained excellent improvement".

The target aims for 95 per cent of smoking patients seen by a health professional in public hospitals (and 90 per cent of smoking patients seen by a health practitioner in primary care) to be offered brief advice and support to quit smoking.

The primary care sector almost doubled its performance from 44 per cent to 82 per cent this quarter .

Quitline figures released to the Bay of Plenty Times show for the year to date, 896 people contacted the national support service attempting to give up smoking.

The board also improved from 17th to 13th in the national immunisation target aimed at getting 85 per cent of 8-month-olds vaccinated - 88 per cent.


Mr Cammish said this reflected work done by primary care and family practices promoting early enrolment of babies with their GP, bringing the family in for each immunisation event, and providing parents with the information for informed consent.

"We will remain focussed on ensuring babies get their immunisation on time, every time, with timeliness being the key driver for this target."

However, the board dropped slightly in its performance for shorter stays in emergency departments and improved access to elective surgery.

Mr Cammish said the board had since made changes to improve its emergency department's related performance. Although access to surgery was still above the national target of 100 per cent, with 111 per cent, the board dropped from fifth to sixth spot.

The board failed to achieve the target of 75 per cent of the eligible population having their cardiovascular risk assessed in the last five years but improved from 67 per cent last quarter to 68 per cent this quarter.

'I didn't want to die young'

Nanette Wakefield knows how good a cigarette can feel first thing in the morning.

But the mother of two has chosen to quit smoking to create a better life for herself and her family.

Health targets released this week showed the Bay of Plenty District Health Board made major improvements in helping smokers quit.

Today Mrs Wakefield, 42, will be her seventh day as a non-smoker.

The Ohauiti mum had smoked for 20 years. Without support provided by Quitline, she said, she did not know how she would get through.

"I was an emotional smoker. I would smoke when I was happy, sad, stressed, any excuse really. Then there were certain times of the day, like first thing in the morning. It's a habit thing."

Mrs Wakefield would smoke 10-12 cigarettes a day, sometimes 15-20 if she was stressed. She is one of 896 Bay of Plenty people so far this year to reach out to Quitline for support to stop smoking.

"I decided for my kids really, to see them grown up. I didn't really want to die young, and just for financial gain and just for my health."

Quitline sent information packs and patches to help Mrs Wakefield wean herself off the nicotine she had become so accustomed to.

"It's up and down. I have my good moments and bad moments, and I still have cravings. Sometimes they will last a long time but it won't be like this the whole time. I've just got to get through it.

"I'm determined to quit. I'm not going to go down without a fight."

The support offered by services such as Quitline were invaluable, Mrs Wakefield said.

She recommended anyone also trying to give up to ask for help.

"It's a big lifestyle change for me. It's not something that's easy. You just put one foot in front of the other when you are trying to quit."

Mrs Wakefield said she had support from her husband and together they planned to take their boys, 12 and 7, on holiday with the money saved from not buying cigarettes.

Quitline is a free support service available on 0800 778 778. Support is also available through GPs, medical practices and Tauranga Hospital.

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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