Health Minister Jonathan Coleman today launched the annual influenza immunisation campaign at Unichem Miramar Pharmacy, Wellington.
“More than one million New Zealanders get immunised against influenza each year,” says Dr Coleman.
“A recent New Zealand study showed that most people infected with influenza in 2015 didn’t experience any symptoms, but could still have spread the virus without realising it.
“By being immunised, we not only protect ourselves, but we help to ensure we don’t pass on influenza to our families, friends and colleagues.
“One of the ongoing challenges of the influenza programme is improving immunisation coverage for groups who are eligible for free immunisation, particularly among people with ongoing medical conditions.
“Pharmac has made changes to the provision of free influenza immunisation so pharmacists will be able to provide free immunisation to pregnant women and those aged 65 years and older.”
Influenza immunisation is free for New Zealanders at high risk of complications, through their general practice. Many employers also provide free vaccination for their staff. Those who aren't eligible for free immunisation can purchase it from general practices and some pharmacies.
High risk groups include those with long term health conditions such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, respiratory disease, kidney disease, cancer, as well as pregnant women and people aged 65 and over.
The vaccine will be funded for eligible patients until the end of 2017, a longer period than in recent years. Similar to previous years, a total of 1.2 million doses are expected to be distributed.
This year the influenza vaccine has one new strain to ensure New Zealanders are better protected this winter from the strains of influenza circulating around the world.
Notes to editors
The influenza vaccine for the 2017 season includes one new strain based on recommendations from the World Health Organization. The composition is:A/Michigan/45/2015 (H1N1)pdm09 - like virus A/Hong Kong/4801/2014 (H3N2) - like virus B/Brisbane/60/2008 – like virus (new)
Health Minister Jonathan Coleman is welcoming the successful introduction of a new way to assess the future profile of the country’s medical specialty workforce.
“Health Workforce New Zealand (HWNZ) plays a key role helping to ensure the health workforce is well trained, appropriately configured, and able to address the future health needs of New Zealanders,” says Dr Coleman.
“To support this work HWNZ have developed and begun implementing a new more sophisticated modelling system.
“The New Zealand designed new model takes the workforce data and can then adjust for a range of factors including the age of the workforce, the training pipelines and population changes.
“The system was initially adapted for the nursing workforce and following its success will now be expanded to other professions.
Testing the model's forecasts against what actually happened in past years shows it to be 98 per cent accurate. The model won the first prize at the Data Olympics at the 16th International Health Workforce Collaborative in the United States at the end of last year.
“A capable and well distributed supply of health professionals is crucial to delivering the health services that New Zealanders need, and supports the delivery of the Government’s health targets and key health priorities.
“As we move to a more integrated healthcare system with more services provided in the community, we need a flexible workforce which fully utilises the skills of professionals such as nurses and pharmacists.”
More reliable workforce modelling fits into a wider plan to help future proof our health workforce.
Recent legislation will over time help enable some health professionals to widen their scope of practice. For example, suitably qualified registered nurses will soon be able to issue sick leave certificates.
Optometrists are another example, with more than 40 now able to prescribe the appropriate treatment for glaucoma.
Through a programme at the University of Auckland nurses with substantial experience in gastroenterology are now being trained to perform endoscopies. These highly capable nurses are now being trained to the same standards as gastroenterologists and surgeons.
The new modelling system is detailed in the HWNZ 2015-16 annual report, which is available on the Ministry of Health website, www.health.govt.nz
Sport and Recreation Minister Jonathan Coleman will tonight acknowledge steps being taken to improve gender equality in cricket at the ANZ New Zealand Cricket Awards.
“It is a credit to New Zealand Cricket that they are one of the first of the major sporting codes to appoint a female President and I would like to acknowledge Debbie Hockley’s appointment,” says Dr Coleman.
The appointment follows the critical ‘Women and Cricket, Cricket and Women’ report which was published in November 2016.
It found that nearly 60 per cent of cricket clubs didn’t offer any cricket for females, and only six per cent of governance positions were held by women.
“New Zealand Cricket has recognised that there is vast room for improvement when it comes to the sport’s engagement with women,” says Dr Coleman.
“It’s great that there’s been an increase in the promotion of the White Ferns over summer.
“I wish the team well for the upcoming ICC Women's World Cup, to be held in England during June and July. Suzie Bates and the team are tremendous ambassadors for our country and for the sport.”
Tonight’s awards are being held at the Viaduct Events Centre in Auckland and will celebrate all levels of cricket from volunteers and administrators through to the Blackcaps and White Ferns.
Health Minister Jonathan Coleman today launched the Adult Palliative Care Services in New Zealand – Review and Action Plan at Hospice North Shore, Auckland.
“Palliative care is a priority for the Government. We’re committed to ensuring New Zealanders can access palliative care services when they need them and in the settings they prefer,” says Dr Coleman.
“When factoring in our growing and ageing population recently published research predicted that over the next 20 years the number of people needing palliative care will increase 51 per cent, from 24,680 in 2016 to more than 37,000 in 2038.
“The review, undertaken by the Ministry of Health, in consultation with a Palliative Care Advisory Panel, focuses on improving services over the next three to five years, while taking into account the expected demand for those services over the next 10 to 20 years.”
This review presents a refreshed strategic direction for palliative care and proposes five priority areas. This includes improving the variety and quality of services and adopting a more patient-centred model of care.
“A major focus will be responding to feedback from people receiving palliative care and their families,” says Dr Coleman.
“There will also be an increased emphasis on primary palliative care being provided by all health care professionals caring for a person, with the support of palliative care specialists.
“The Action Plan supports the review and provides a roadmap. It is the result of consumer and sector feedback, with a focus on the individual’s holistic care.
“One of the first actions will be developing a framework for collecting patients and their families’ experiences of adult palliative care to understand what is working well and identify opportunities for improvement.
“Workshops will be held for health and consumer representatives to ensure greater collaboration between services and better co-ordinated care for patients.”
In Budget 2015 the Government invested $76.1 million into hospice services. That included $24.1 million to support the delivery of new palliative care services in aged residential care, primary care and other community settings.
The Review of Adult Palliative Care and the Palliative Care Action Plan are available on the Ministry of Health website, www.health.govt.nz
Health Minister Jonathan Coleman and Science and Innovation Minister Paul Goldsmith have welcomed $2 million in feasibility study grants announced today by the Health Research Council (HRC).
“The Government supports research that leads to improved health outcomes and more effective delivery of healthcare for New Zealanders,” says Dr Coleman.
“This year’s funding for feasibility grants is nearly double last year’s, supporting a total of nine studies spanning a range of subject areas.”
One study looks at adapting a popular US mobile app that helps individuals self-manage hazardous drinking for New Zealand users.
Another is looking at higher infection rates of a common gut bacteria found in some people to see if it helps explain the difficulty in treating cases of type 2 diabetes.
Researchers are keen to see if a mobile phone game which has already proven to be popular with 9-13 year olds can also help improve self-management of diabetes in young people. The game shows the interaction between diet and exercise on glucose blood monitoring.
There is also a trial of the effectiveness of an exercise and education programme to help reduce the 12,000 annual hospitalisations from a lung condition called chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
“Through this union of science and healthcare we hope to make inroads into reducing the toll of these diseases on people’s lives and in reducing the burden socially and economically,” says Mr Goldsmith.
“We want to maximise these opportunities. Commercial health research is also a great opportunity to grow our high value exports.”
The Government's ongoing commitment to health research is demonstrated in the Budget 2016 announcement of an extra $97 million over the next four years for the Health Research Council.
Further details about studies receiving funding are available on the Health Research Council of New Zealand website www.hrc.govt.nz.
Health Minister Jonathan Coleman says data from the system which matches graduates with employers shows hundreds more nurses are now in mental health services, surgical, and medical areas.
The national recruitment system, called ACE, provides accurate information much sooner for both nurse graduates and employers. It helps to streamline the recruitment process for both graduates and DHBs.
“The latest results show that 853 students, 61 per cent, of the 1,404 nurse graduates seeking work through the November 2016 ACE recruitment round are now employed,” says Dr Coleman.
“The top three areas where nurses find work continues to be surgical (182), medical (122) and mental health and addictions (116).
“We are also seeing a better reflection of the make-up of our population in our nursing workforce. Evidence suggests that matching the demographic of the workforce to the population improves health outcomes and access to services.
“This year 71 per cent of the 223 Māori nursing graduates, 58% of 858 the NZ European nursing graduates and 57% of the 82 Pacifica nurses are employed.”
The data from past ACE rounds suggests the vast majority of graduate nurses find employment over the following year.
Only three per cent of the November 2015 graduates are still looking for positions through ACE, which is in line with previous years.
The Government has funded 1,291 new graduate nurses in nurse entry to practice positions in 2016. This is supported by the Government investing $568 million extra into Vote Health for 2016/2017, taking the total health spend to a record $16.1 billion.
Sport and Recreation Minister Jonathan Coleman and Disability Issues Minister Nicky Wagner say the New Zealand Special Olympics team should be extremely proud of its outstanding results at the 2017 Special Olympics World Winter Games held in Graz, Austria.
“The 13 athletes who competed in last week’s games have returned to New Zealand today with 18 medals,” says Dr Coleman.
“What’s even more impressive is that all members of the team have achieved personal best results.”
New Zealand’s athletes were competing alongside 2600 athletes from over 105 countries, and athletes are only allowed to enter two events each.
“The Special Olympics are a chance for us to get behind our athletes and to show the extraordinary things disabled people can accomplish through their hard work and determination,” says Ms Wagner.
“I would like to acknowledge the team’s success, as well as the dedication and passion of their supporters.”
The Government invests $600,000 a year into Special Olympics New Zealand through Sport New Zealand to provide opportunities for intellectually disabled New Zealanders to participate in sport.
Health Minister Jonathan Coleman and Science and Innovation Minister Paul Goldsmith have welcomed the signing of a bilateral cooperation arrangement in biomedical research between New Zealand and China.
The arrangement between the Health Research Council of New Zealand (HRC) and China’s National Natural Science Foundation (NSFC) was signed by HRC Chair Dr Lester Levy and NSFC Vice President Dr Liu Congqiang today.
“The Government has improving cancer care as a priority, with faster access and more support during treatment. This arrangement will help further build on these improvements and contribute to even better outcomes for patients,” says Dr Coleman.
“We want a health research system in which researchers, Government agencies and the commercial sector work together to get the best outcomes.
“A more integrated system will deliver new treatments, new drugs and new technologies more quickly, both to improve the health of New Zealanders and for export overseas.”
“This arrangement aims to strengthen existing and establish new collaborations in biomedical sciences between Chinese and New Zealand researchers from universities and research institutions,” says Mr Goldsmith.
“The Government hopes it will foster breakthroughs in biomedical research that will advance the global development of science and technology.
“It will also help to promote the mobility and career development of researchers within joint projects.
“The signing of this arrangement is a huge step in the right direction, and specific details of collaborative opportunities will be developed over the coming months.”
China’s National Natural Science Foundation manages the National Natural Science Fund, aimed at promoting and financing basic and applied research in China.
This announcement builds on a number of existing programmes to support science partnerships with China, including the establishment of three Government-funded New Zealand-China Research Collaboration Centres in 2016 to support better scientific engagement with China in water research, food safety and security, and non-communicable diseases.
Health Minister and Sport and Recreation Minister Jonathan Coleman is travelling to Melbourne to take part in a meeting of Health Ministers.
Dr Coleman will attend the Council of Australian Governments Health Council meeting, along with Australian Commonwealth Health Minister Greg Hunt and Health Ministers from states and territories.
Dr Coleman will also meet separately with Mr Hunt, who like Dr Coleman, also holds both the health and sports portfolio.
“I’m looking forward to meeting with my counterpart while in Melbourne,” says Dr Coleman.
“Our health systems share many things in common and having an opportunity learn to hear how our counterparts across the Tasman are dealing with challenges and advances in the health care system is extremely valuable.
“I am particularly interested in hearing about innovative programmes which could further improve the health outcomes of New Zealanders.
“I will also be relaying New Zealand’s experience of delivering faster more convenient health care closer to home.”
Health Minister Jonathan Coleman is calling on clinicians to share their ideas on how technology can transform patient care.
“Clinicians have an insider’s view of where innovation can be applied to improve healthcare services,” says Dr Coleman.
“A key focus of this year’s annual Clinicians’ Challenge is ‘disruptive innovation’, which is when an innovation disrupts the existing norm and becomes the new benchmark.
“An example of disruptive innovation is the smart phone-based retinal camera developed by 2015 Clinicians’ Challenge winner Dr Hong Sheng Chiong. The camera attaches to a smart phone and helps optometrists perform eye exams for a very low cost in any location.
“There’s no doubt technology is changing the way healthcare is delivered. We’re just scratching the surface of what innovations can offer to complement clinical treatment.
“The Clinicians’ Challenge seeks to harness the innovation we have in our sector, and convert it into the best possible patient care.”
This year’s Clinicians’ Challenge has two categories – an idea for a disruptive innovation yet to be developed, or an innovative system or solution already in place or being developed that’s having a positive impact on patient care.
The winner in each category will receive a grant of $8,000. The results will be announced at the annual Health Informatics New Zealand (HiNZ) conference in November.
The Clinicians’ Challenge is a joint initiative by the Ministry of Health and HiNZ. Entries can be submitted at www.hinz.org.nz until 16 June 2017.