Health care providers in any country, especially those funded by Government face often conflicting demands from stakeholders. The demand for health services continues to rise, thus increasing both the cost and the demand for funding, while the taxation bucket that provides funding continues to shrink.
West Coast DHB experiences all of the above while also serving a diverse and sparse population over a wide geographical region. There are other DHB’s in New Zealand with similar issues. The challenge for those in remote and rural areas is to maintain a level of service that meets the needs of the community. This requires a significant investment in facilities and equipment along with innovative strategies for either attracting suitably qualified people or transferring patients to where the best service is available.
Hospitals are a very important part of our social fabric. In many instances a hospital is the largest employer in a region along with local government. Any reduction in healthcare services not only impacts upon service delivery but also impact upon local employment opportunities.
The challenge for our communities is to understand that a hospital can only ever be the ‘ambulance at the bottom of the hill’. A hospital fixes a problem that we have created. So many instances of hospital care might have been avoided by people taking personal responsibility for their own lifestyle and health.
Our hospitals would be much more efficient if all they needed to do was provide emergency treatment and enable babies to be born. Aged care should not be a responsibility of a hospital, nor should mental health services or even dementia care. Ensuring we don’t require treatment for lung cancer, diabetes or obesity is our individual responsibility, not that of a hospital.
The problem is not a lack of healthcare funding; its how that funding is spent that is the root cause of the problem.
Those are my thoughts for the day.
Let The Journey Continue