(September 2011) by Dr Kate Baddock
I thought this might be a good opportunity to explain a few medical matters that are confusing even to those of us who spend every day working in health. First of all, a couple of definitions:
When you enroll with the doctor or practice of your choice, you are (through that enrolment) also enrolled with the PHO. Most of you will not even realize that you belong to a PHO but it is through that connection that the practices are able to provide certain programmes and care packages to you without charge. These programmes include:
This list is not exhaustive but it gives you an idea of the wide variety of programmes that are made possible by belonging to a PHO.
PHOs came into being in 2002 when the then Labour Government introduced the Primary Health Care Strategy. Times have moved on since then but the idea of PHOs has withstood the test of time. PHOs are governed by a board made up of clinical people, e.g. doctors, nurses and pharmacists, together with iwi and community. They are charged with looking after enrolled populations primarily through General Practices but they also work directly with patients where this is appropriate. The programmes (as above) are funded primarily through contracts that the PHO holds with the Waitemata District Health Board.
The latest development is the National Government’s Better Sooner More Convenient policy and this has meant that PHOs, and other organisations, have been working even more closely with the Waitemata District Health Board to work out how to deliver services closer to, and more conveniently for, patients. Part of the planning is how to integrate services so that outpatient services, for instance, may occur in Warkworth and Wellsford. Also, in the future, public surgery may be offered at the Rodney Surgical Centre. These are possibilities for the future but it is where Waitemata PHO - your PHO - is trying to head.