Health Hub helping rural communities
For 10 months of the year the bus travels the country, from Kaikohe to Balclutha, performing scheduled day surgeries in small towns and rural centres. It works closely with district health boards and local nurses to ensure rural people have better access to sur- gery.
Rural Health Alliance Aotearoa New Zealand (RHAANZ) is backing the Fieldays Health Hub.
RHAANZ CEO Michelle Thompson said rural people are losing out when it comes to health.
‘‘Of the scant data that exists, we know that the health outcomes for rural people are poorer than for urban people,’’ said Thompson.
‘‘Agriculture, along with tourism, is the power base of the New Zealand economy. It makes good economic sense for the Government to focus on the people supporting the rural economy.’’
Thompson estimated that there were about 600,000 people living rurally, from Cape Reinga to Bluff.
‘‘If it were a city that would be New Zealand’s second largest city, and it doesn’t feel like the rural sector gets that level of attention when it comes to health,’’ said Thompson.
Poor access to healthcare or delay in seeking treatment help can impact many medical conditions, which become more serious than if they were treated earlier.
Thompson said the barriers to good health are varied. They include lack of GPs and aged-care workers in some rural areas, limited access to healthcare screenings or treatment due to geographic isolation, embarrassment or difficulty talking about symptoms, and work pressures (it can be hard to ‘take time’ away from the farm, especially during busy seasons or if short-staffed).
Clinical nurse leader Liz Grant and CEO Mark Eager and anesthetic technician Sue Nilsen on the operating table inside the surgical truck. The Health Hub will be a feature at this year’s Fieldays.