An increasing number of Whanganui people are going to hospital for respiratory issues.

Respiratory disease has increased nationwide despite modern treatment and better understanding of the problem, according to the Asthma Foundation's National Respiratory Strategy.

Whanganui District Health Board figures show 1312 hospital admissions for respiratory illness last financial year - up on 1233 the previous year and 1158 in the 2012-13 financial year. Maori were just over a quarter of all admissions last year.

Whanganui health board nurse manager Wendy Stanbrook-Mason said a group with representatives from primary and secondary services reviewed patients with multiple presentations to the emergency department with respiratory illness to ensure support and further medical care was provided.


A long-term conditions nurse provided focused follow-up and care, as well as recognising early change in a patient's condition.

The health board also promoted individual involvement in self-management groups for those with respiratory illness, she said.

It was also working with GPs on prevention measures such as immunisation.

Ms Stanbrook-Mason said the Whanganui health board supported Healthy Homes and support for smokers to quit. It was also increasing its capacity to educate other health providers, patients and families.

The Asthma Foundation's strategy report said children, people on low incomes, and Maori and Pacific people experienced a much greater burden of respiratory ill-health than other New Zealanders.

Sir Mason Durie of Massey University said respiratory diseases not only reflected the health status of individuals but were also a comment on the environments where they lived, worked, and played.

Respiratory disease refers to conditions which impair the airways and lungs including asthma, bronchiectasis, bronchiolitis, pneumonia, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), lung cancer and obstructive sleep apnoea.