Rotorua Daily Post health and business reporter

Change obscures smoking figures

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Lakes DHB was the worst in the country at offering support to smokers to quit. Photo / Thinkstock
Lakes DHB was the worst in the country at offering support to smokers to quit. Photo / Thinkstock

Changes that mean Rotorua's primary health organisation needs to offer support for smokers to quit - even if they're not seeing their GPs - have been blamed for a drop in performance.

Rotorua Area Primary Health Service (RAPHS) ranked the worst in the country when it came to the better-help-for-smokers-to-quit target - which aims to offer 90 per cent of patients who smoke help to quit in the past 15 months, and was second to the bottom when it came to providing more heart and diabetes checks.

Lakes District Health Board acting chief executive Nick Saville-Wood said he was disappointed with the results.

However RAPHS chief executive Kirsten Stone said supporting patients to help quit smoking was a focus for the organisation, because smoking was a major contributor to poor health.

But she said this year the way the smoking target was measured had changed from counting support for smokers seen in general practice in the past year, to anyone who was a smoker whether they visited their doctor or not, which had impacted on results.

Ms Stone said general practices in Rotorua did a fabulous job of supporting smokers who visit practices with help to quit. - achieving one of the top results in the country.

She said RAPHS was doing a lot of work around putting on additional clinics, scheduling drop in clinic and providing phone and text support for overdue smokers.

"Now that the target has changed to include patients that haven't visited their practice, there were most certainly challenges for RAPHS to meet the target."

She said phone and text campaigns identified a very high proportion of the community often changed phone numbers or didn't have sufficient phone credit to text back. She said they'd only been able to contact 23 per cent of overdue smokers that way.

"The challenges of engaging with this hard to reach group highlight wider obstacles for good health for our community."

Ms Stone said the organisation had also been working hard to provide more heart and diabetes checks. It had increased its performance results 6 per cent in the past six months, which was an extra 1300 checks.

- Rotorua Daily Post

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