The efforts of resetting the direction for Southern DHB over the past few years are being rewarded, but there is still considerable work ahead, says Commissioner Kathy Grant.

The DHB’s 2017/18 Annual Report: Quality and Performance Account was released today, outlining progress in key areas aimed to make a step-change in the delivery of health care across the district.

These include the primary and community care strategy and action plan, which is now seeing health care homes – enhanced general practices – being rolled out across the district; investments made in virtual health to enable some patients to avoid unnecessary travel for appointments; and reshaping the primary maternity system of care, better supporting women and LMC midwives across the district.

Strengthening primary and community care – so care is more accessible, and closer to home – is an essential aspect of preparing for the new Dunedin Hospital, Mrs Grant says.

“We need to design a hospital that meets specific, specialist needs for our population that is becoming older, and is dispersed across our large district, for generations to come. More and more of that care needs to take place in the community, and we cannot wait until the hospital is open before we put those pieces in place. This needs to be a top priority today.”

The DHB’s ‘facilities for the future’ programme also made strong progress over the 2017/18 reporting period, with planning for the new Dunedin Hospital well underway; opening of a new gastroenterology suite; progress on the development of the ICU; and resource consent gained for the upgrade of Lakes District Hospital in Queenstown – with work now underway.

Significant work is also underway in improving the patients’ journey while in hospital to avoid unnecessary delays; strengthening culture; improving digital systems; and creating the environment for good health through preventive and public health programmes.

Chief Executive Chris Fleming acknowledges Southern DHB is “a big ship to turn around”.

“But we now have the strategic planks more firmly in place, and are seeing these bringing results in terms of reshaping the health care system,” he says.

“This year will be about consolidating this effort, and delivering further on the plans that are in place.

“We know there is still a lot of work to do, including ensuring timely access to diagnostics and specialist assessments, and addressing the widening gap in health outcomes for Māori and others in our community.

“However, we have accomplished a lot. I wish to acknowledge this and thank all of our more than 4,600 staff, and all of the health care providers, NGOs, volunteers and the wider community for their efforts to make a difference to the well-being of the people in our district.

Highlights from the 2017/18 Annual Report include:

Southern DHB and WellSouth’s Primary and Community Care Strategy and Action Plan launched, providing a roadmap for reshaping services

The planned rebuild of the new Dunedin Hospital, and central city site, was announced

Resource consent was gained for redevelopment of Lakes District Hospital

The national bowel screening programme was launched for the Southern district, supported by a new gastroenterology department at Dunedin Hospital

The Home as my First Choice initiative was launched, promoting options for older people wanting to stay in their homes

The Oranga-Pepi programme was introduced, to improve whānau awareness of entitlements for newborn babies, so they can get the best start in life

Participation in Speak Up programme, promoting a positive workplace culture, exceeded 2,500

The number of teenagers who have never smoked continues to rise. Significant improvement was made in supporting smokers to quit in a hospital setting

Similar financial position to previous year, with deficit of $21.4 million.

Southern DHB 2017/18 at a glance

•             62,356km² (largest geographical area of all DHBs)

•             326,280 residents

•             54,860 people aged 65 and over, slightly higher proportion than New Zealand overall

•             Population is 81% European, 10% Māori, 7% Asian and 2% Pacific

•             3,379 babies born

•             84,110 presentations to Emergency Departments

•             13,219 elective procedures performed

•             4,655 staff employed at Southern DHB