Health shake-up: What could this mean for diabetes patients?

For 10 years John was prescribed high doses of insulin to combat his type 2 diabetes – until he met Dr Glen Davis.

The Taupō GP helped reverse his chronic condition by changing his diet and lifestyle and he no longer needed insulin.

John is one of the 115 New Zealanders who have reaped the same benefits under Davis’ care.

With today’s major health system shake-up, Davis has now been given hope that his holistic solutions will be heard and greater support will be given to regions.

Health Minister Andrew Little unveiled the major changes that will see the country’s 20 DHBs culled and replaced with a national health body due to come into effect in July next year.

The major announcements are:

• All DHBs will be replaced by one national health body, Health New Zealand, to fund and run the health system

• A new Māori health authority will be created, with power to commission health services

• The Ministry of Health will become an advisory and policy agency only

• A new Public Health agency will be created within the Ministry of Health

It comes after a damning report last month revealed the skyrocketing number of New Zealanders with type 2 diabetes is expected to cost our health system $3.5 billion a year by 2040.

“When I heard of the new Māori health authority I was like ‘wow’ this sounds like a group that is going to listen and listen differently,” Davis said.

He said his patient John had given up hope when he first met him.

“He wasn’t ever given the opportunity to help his illness go away, he was just given medication that makes you fat.”

READ MORE: Major health sector shake-up: Govt scraps all DHBs in favour of one national authority

Damning report

Researchers of The Economic and Social Cost of Type 2 Diabetes report – launched in Parliament last month – warned urgent Government action was needed to halt or even reverse that steep curve.

Currently, our health system spends $2.1 billion annually on treating the chronic condition that can lead to blindness, amputation and a life hooked up to a dialysis machine.

By 2040, that cost is predicted to hit $3.5 billion a year.

“By changing from an ambulance at the bottom of the cliff approach to a fence at the top, we could be avoiding more than 600 amputations a year in people with type 2 diabetes,” Heather Verry, CEO of Diabetes New Zealand said.

They were calling for regular foot screening for every New Zealander with type 2 diabetes, community centres targeted at managing and preventing prediabetes lifestyles, better education of the condition through schools and throughout the community, and a national strategy rather than each District Health Board having their own.

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