Too many Bay of Plenty people are ending up in hospital with skin infections and stomach bugs which could be readily avoided through early intervention.
Bay of Plenty District Health Board chief executive Phil Cammish said cellulitis - bacterial skin infections - were the most common preventable condition for Bay people aged under 74 admitted to hospital between July last year and this March.
More than 600 people were admitted with cellulitis.
The next most common preventable condition was gastroenteritis/dehydration, with dental conditions third.
The preventable ailments most commonly putting children under 5 into hospital were gastroenteritis/dehydration, upper respiratory and ear, nose and throat infections and dental conditions.
Mr Cammish said the Bay had 226 potentially preventable admissions in the first six months of this year for vaccine-preventable diseases on the immunisation schedule. They included influenza, pertussis, pneumococcal disease and rotavirus.
More than half of those potentially preventable admissions were for rotavirus. The vaccine for rotavirus was added to the schedule on July 1 last year, so the number of admissions was expected fall over time.
Mr Cammish said there were also 11 admissions for vaccine-preventable diseases which were not on the New Zealand immunisation schedule, including varicella and hepatitis B.
The health board called these cases "ambulatory sensitive hospitalisations (ASH)" and they were all considered potentially reducible through preventative or therapeutic intervention in primary care.
DHB planning and funding primary care portfolio manager Phil Back said all children under 13 had free access to primary healthcare and pharmacy aid.
Common reasons for residents not being able to access primary care services during normal business hours could be inability to contact their general practice, or appointments not being available or not being available at a suitable time. That could result in people turning to accident and emergency care or emergency departments.
Mr Back said some people could also experience transport challenges, especially in the Eastern Bay of Plenty.
The DHB, its primary care partners and hospital services were supporting projects to help manage increased demand across the Bay of Plenty health system. That included looking at frequently occurring preventable conditions and seeking other ways these cases could be better managed, he said.
A Ministry of Health update says new skills and technologies meant some health services could be shifted closer to home.
Minor surgery and intravenous antibiotics for serious skin infections, for example, were now available in primary and community care settings.
Encouraging such changes would be important where they provided convenient, good-quality and affordable options.
Alternative approaches include telehealth, mobile vans and out-reach clinics.