Better Public Services Result 3: Keeping kids healthy

What is the target?

By 2021, a 25% reduction in hospital admission rates for a selected group of avoidable conditions in children aged 0–12 years, with an interim target of 15% by 2019.

Why is this important for New Zealand?

We want to keep kids healthy and out of hospital. Some hospital admissions could be avoided by government agencies and providers working together to shape the underlying determinants of health. By intervening early, services can stop conditions getting worse to the point where hospitalisation is needed. These avoidable hospitalisations include dental conditions, respiratory conditions (such as bronchiolitis, pneumonia, bronchiectasis, asthma and wheeze), skin conditions (such as skin infections, dermatitis and eczema), and head injuries.

Result 3 is not about limiting access to hospital treatment when this is needed. Initially Result 3 may result in more children being identified with previously undiagnosed conditions, and hospitalisations may go up in the short term as a consequence. Over time, however, we expect hospitalisations to be avoided.

How will we know we are achieving this result?

In 2015/16, there were 40.3 avoidable hospitalisations per 1,000 children aged 0–12. We will reduce this rate by 25% by 2021.

What are we doing to achieve this result?

We have a number of priority actions underway or planned that will contribute to keeping kids healthy. These include the following.

  • Work with district health boards and stakeholders to explore primary and community service models that improve the availability of preventive initiatives, and access to services, for children and pregnant women.
  • Work with district health boards and other agencies to improve the availability of, and access to, appropriate housing.
  • Work across government agencies, and with Well Child Tamariki Ora services and other providers, to develop head injury prevention actions.
  • Promote good oral health to parents and children in high need communities.
  • Continue to support water fluoridation in communities.
  • Work with district health boards and their stakeholders to improve outcomes for pregnant women and children through continuing to implement the System Level Measures. The System Level Measures are an improvement framework that concentrates on improving core health outcomes, with a particular focus on equity. Measures that impact on children include:
    • implementing prevention and early treatment of respiratory conditions in the community
    • improving child and mother immunisation rates
    • improving children’s attendance at dental clinics.
  • Review the Well Child Tamariki Ora programme to ensure it aligns with the evidence about what works, reflects key priorities, and is able to be delivered in sufficient intensity to meet the needs of pregnant women, children, families and whānau.
  • Continue the New Zealand childhood obesity programme – a multi-agency programme to equitably reduce childhood obesity in New Zealand, so that children and young people can live well and stay well.
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