Happy New Year

Happy New Year – I hope most of you managed to have a good break and for those of you who had to work, many thanks for holding the fort. I spent the holidays with family and friends, relaxing and enjoying a fair number of BBQ’s.

Now the side effects of an over-indulgent Xmas and New Year is the slight hang-over and a growing waistline from too much good food, and while it’s enjoyable at the time, I always seem to start the New Year with a resounding cry that I will change my wicked ways for a healthier lifestyle.

With this in mind my lifestyle changes for 2014 include eating healthier foods, not drinking too much, sleeping well and exercising (gradually) and while the motivation levels are still high (on my 2nd week back at work), I’m determined to go the distance. As I think about the new and improved me I’m mindful of the public face we show to others, not just on an individual level but as an organisation. As healthcare professionals, we have a responsibility to practice what we preach. For example how many of you have told a patient, family member or friend that he or she should give up smoking or adapt a healthier lifestyle? Are you following your own advice? If the answer is no, how can we expect others to change, when we are not prepared to change ourselves.

The other day I received an email from a staff member who witnessed a couple of staff members, in their uniforms smoking at the Middlemore train station. After they had finished they stubbed out their cigarettes and went back to work. This is a clear violation of CMDHB’s Smokefree Policy and Dress Code, as well as breaching Auckland Transport’s no smoking policy. The other thing that struck me were the mixed messages being given to members of the public – some of them children. On the one hand CM Health is actively encouraging people to give up smoking for their health and on the other hand, we have health professionals acting as if it’s ok. I think we sometimes forget that our actions can influence others.

That being said I’m delighted to report that our smoking prevalence rates in Counties Manukau have dropped from 22.1% in 2006 to 15.9% in 2013. This is great news and we need to work with our communities and providers to learn from and build on this progress.

Current activities aimed at reducing smoking prevalence include smoking cessation services and support to quit; regular tobacco price increases; national campaigns; work to progress smokefree environments; and the concerted effort by primary and secondary healthcare services to identify patients who smoke and support them to quit.

Tobacco smoking is still one of the major drivers of health inequities and one of the leading risk factors for avoidable illness and death. We need to continue to make support for people who smoke to quit and remain smokefree in the long-term a high priority, as well as ensuring the number of people who start smoking continues to reduce, particularly in our Maaori and Pacific communities.

Further information about Smokefree support in Counties Manukau can be found here.


Author: Geraint Martin

Geraint Martin was appointed Chief Executive Officer of Counties Manukau DHB in December 2006. It is one of the largest District Health Boards in New Zealand and services a population of half a million. He has significant experience over 30 years in national policy & in managing both primary and secondary care . Previously, he was Director of Health and Social Care Strategy at the Welsh Government .He authored a radical 10 year strategy of reform, including the successful “Saving 1000 lives” Campaign.Until 2004, he was CEO at Kettering General Hospital & had held senior positions in London & Birmingham.He has worked closely with clinicians in improving clinical standards,patient safety,chronic disease management & managing acute care to reduce hospital demand.In NZ, He has promoted clinical quality and leadership as central to improving patientcare. This has led to a significant increases in productivity and access, whilst maintaining financial balance. CMH has completed in 2014 a $500 m capital redevelopment programme, the largest in New Zealand. A central part of this is the establishment of Ko Awatea,the Centre for Innovation and Research which will underpin CMH as one of the the leading health systems in Australasia.In 2008, he chaired the Ministerial Review of Emergency Care in New Zealand, and in 2013 was an member of the Expert Advisory Panel on Health Sector Performance. Geraint has an MSc in Health Policy from Birmingham University .His post-graduate work has focused on health economics and Corporate Strategy . He is adjunct Professor of Healthcare Management at AUT and Victoria University, Wellington Elected in 2006 as a Companion of the Institute of Healthcare Management, previously he was an Associate Fellow at Birmingham University.He is is Chair of the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra, a member of the Institute of Directors, on the Board of the NZ Institute of Health Management & previously the Board of The NZ Health Quality and Safety Commission.

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