By Mark Leggett,
General Manager, South Island Alliance
Monday, 8 October saw the annual planning day for the members of the South Island Alliance. This year’s meeting brought together the Board Chairs and Chief Executives of the five South Island district health boards (DHBs), with the clinical and management leaders that support the various service level alliances (SLAs) and workstreams. For the first time, we were also joined by Chief Executives and senior staff from the South Island primary health organisations (PHOs).
The key focus of the meeting was on the inequities in our services and the resultant health outcomes faced by our Māori communities. As such, the agenda and content was supported by our colleagues in Te Herenga Hauora o te Waka-ā-Māui, the senior Māori leaders from the DHBs.
A review of key indicators and measures identified clear equity issues in the context of the social determinants of health (culture, deprivation, housing, education) and access to health services – noting that Māori tend to be diagnosed later than non-Māori, and, even once diagnosed, experience inequities related to treatment options and of course eventual outcomes.
We broke the room up into groups covering mental health, child health, older persons’ health, social determinants and acute demand challenges (the GP – hospital service interface). These groups were facilitated by our Te Herenga Hauora colleagues and were tasked with proposing key projects that would deliver specific changes and improvements to address the inequities identified in each group’s subject area.
How much can be achieved in a day?
The outcome of the workshop was the presentation of a range of project options from the sharply focused exemplar kaupapa Māori service to address smoking in young Māori mothers, through to the broader requirement of delivering and embedding cultural competency training for health service staff that actually improves service experience for Māori.
A significant portion of the discussion centred on better capture and interpretation of data relating to the experience and interaction of Māori in the health and social system, with a view to ensure that we do target resources and confirm measures that will be meaningful.
As part of the data and information context, it is clear that we still struggle to accurately capture and record the ethnicity data for our health workforce (at all levels) and our consumers. Te Herenga Hauora provided a strong focus on this baseline information as being key to understanding the gaps as well as the capacity in our system for supporting and delivering culturally appropriate services – if we don’t know or understand this baseline, then we will continue to struggle to meaningfully address inequities in our services.
We are now working on the detailed discussion elements of the day, and will shortly publish a summary to our colleagues who participated – noting that we are now all in the same waka, and will need to be paddling in the same direction. As we move into confirming our projects in these areas, we have also been tasked by the Alliance Board with ensuring greater cross-sector engagement.
The October planning day for the South Island Alliance was therefore another step in development of cohesive, planned services at a regional level, but more importantly, this year it was a strong step in the improvement of services with a specific view of improving equity for Māori.
Our task now is to ensure that it is not a single, isolated step.
Many thanks to all involved in the day’s discussions.
Ngātahi ana ngā tapuwae, eke ana ngā hiahia, tutuki ana nga wawata
When we walk together, our aspirations will be achieved, our dreams will be fulfilled