Canterbury people are increasingly taking greater responsibility for their own health and accessing care in the community closer to their homes. This has enabled shorter waits for care, higher rates of elective services and reduced pressure on hospitals. A range of conditions that were once treated purely or mainly in hospital are now provided in general practice and older people are staying well in their own homes for longer.
Last year alone almost 30,000 people who would previously have been admitted to hospital with acute medical conditions received their treatment and care in their own homes.
When people are supported to stay well in the community, they need fewer hospital-level interventions and spend less time in hospital. This results in better health outcomes and frees up resources. Work to move services to the community enables the health system to be more efficient, reduces the time people wait and returns people back to work and normal activities sooner.
If the rest of NZ admitted people to hospital at the same rate as Canterbury we would have had 120,000 fewer people in New Zealand hospitals. Despite the challenges faced with one of the country’s biggest health systems over a wide geographic area with the largest population over 75 years of age and New Zealand’s largest natural disaster, Canterbury’s acute medical admission rate is 30% lower than the national average (age adjusted).
This indicates a shift towards more people being supported to stay well closer to or in their own homes. More than that, it indicates a shift in public perception about how health care should be delivered, accessed and paid for. Such a transformation means that not only did the Canterbury health system survive the Canterbury earthquakes, but it is now internationally recognised as a leading innovative and increasingly integrated health system.