'Quit smoking' query

A big drop in the number of southern patients asked about smoking by their GP is being investigated, WellSouth Primary Health Network says.

Health rankings this week showed the quit smoking target was met for only 58% of patients in GP practices, compared with 95% of patients in southern hospitals.

WellSouth chief executive Ian Macara said the organisation did not believe the result reflected the real situation, and it was investigating. In the previous quarter, the target had been met for 76% of GP patients.

Mr Macara said he was confident the primary care sector had good quit smoking programmes available for the 31,919 identified smokers in Otago and Southland.

''We have put a lot of work into setting up processes and programmes with health practitioners over the last year, and we are working closely with the Ministry of Health on strategies to improve coverage.''

More than 80% of patients received heart and diabetes risk checks, an improvement on the previous quarter. The health rankings also measure the Southern District Health Board's performance.

The board fared well on a new target for cancer treatment, which stipulates 85% of patients should receive their first cancer treatment within 62 days of being referred. Southern met the target for 75% of patients, and was second equal on this measure among the 20 health boards.

In Auckland, which was last of the 20 boards, it was met for just 50% of patients. Health Minister Jonathan Coleman said the cancer treatment result in Southern was comparable with those in other countries when similar targets were introduced.

''These results are a credit to the health professionals in Southern,'' he said in a press release.



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