Morgan Tait

Morgan Tait is the NZ Herald's consumer affairs reporter.

Health: Smokers won't pack it in


Healthy hearts and immunisations are no sweat for Hawke's Bay residents, but when it comes to smoking we find it hard to kick the habit.

Primary Health Organisation (PHO) league tables released by Health Minister Tony Ryall yesterday showed Health Hawke's Bay was close to meeting targets for cardiovascular risk assessment and immunisation for 2-year-olds, but only a third of the way to helping smokers quit.

The results, to March 2012, ranked the country's 32 PHOs for the three targets, compared to results in December.

Hawke's Bay was ranked ninth nationally for immunising 2-year-olds, 17th for cardiovascular risk assessment, and 22nd for helping smokers.

Health Hawke's Bay was unable to comment on the league tables last night.

Hawke's Bay DHB planning and performance general manager Andrew Lesperance said the DHB had worked with Health Hawke's Bay to improve on targets.

"There have been some gains, which we and Health Hawke's Bay are pleased with, but there is a long way to go particularly around identifying smokers and offering them advice to quit," he said.

Mr Lesperance said vaccination figures had dropped slightly, which was probably due to the seasonal variance of the summer months, because fewer people got vaccinated than during the winter months.

Overall the region was performing well with vaccination rates and the DHB was one of the top-performing district health boards in the country for the vaccination levels of its 2-year olds, he said.

"A concerted effort to improve on these results with a strong DHB and PHO focus on the overall health and wellbeing of our community should see a trend upwards in vaccinations, cardiovascular risk assessments and helping smokers quit."

Mr Ryall said the league tables showed PHOs were supporting GPs to improve the health of New Zealanders, and where improvements were needed.

He said releasing the league tables provided "healthy competition" for the country's PHOs.

"What we've found with releasing the health targets of district health boards is performance has improved and patients are benefiting from better health services.

"There is nothing like a bit of healthy competition to improve results."

PHOs are funded by district health boards to provide health care services through general practices to patients who are registered with them.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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