1080 or death to natives

September 12, 2018

Doc, Federated Farmers, Ospri, Royal Forest & Bird and WWF-NZ are countering the emotion against 1080 with facts:

The Department of Conservation (DOC) is fully committed to the use of 1080 to protect our forests and native wildlife in the face of the current campaign of misinformation and is joined by other agencies in standing up for the use of this pesticide.

New Zealand’s native wildlife is in crisis. The flocks of native birds that used to fill our forests have been killed and replaced by vast populations of rats, possums, stoats and other introduced predators. This is not the future most New Zealanders want.

These animals also carry diseases which pose a danger to people, pets and farm animals.

DOC, OSPRI (TBfree NZ), Federated Farmers, Forest & Bird and WWF-NZ all agree that 1080 is an effective, safe and valuable tool in the fight to protect New Zealand’s forests and native birds, bats, insects and lizards.

The agencies above, along with community groups and volunteers, invest huge amounts of time and effort to protect out native taonga from predation. There are multiple tools and technologies used to control predators of which 1080 is one. 1080 is a highly effective toxin and a necessary tool to help protect our native species.

We use a range of methods including the latest self-setting traps and there is significant research being undertaken into pest control technologies. However, Forest and Bird volunteer trappers agree they could never cover the vast and inaccessible areas that aerial 1080 operations can. Biodegradable aerial 1080 is the most effective tool we have for suppressing rats, possums and stoats in one operation over large, difficult to access wilderness areas—where most of our native wildlife lives.

Huge areas of native bush is inaccessible by foot and the only way currently available to kill pests where trapping is impossible is 1080.

Scientific and technological advances, including genetic modification, might provide alternatives in the future but there are no viable alternatives now.

These organisations use or advocate for 1080 because it is backed by years of rigorous testing, review and research by scientists from Landcare Research, Universities, the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA), Ministry of Health and the independent Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment.

In 2011, the former Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, Dr Jan Wright wrote a comprehensive report on 1080 and the current Parliamentary Commissioner, Dr Simon Upton, stands by Dr Wright’s analysis and recommendations.

The results are clear that where 1080 is used, our birds and native wildlife start to flourish.

We understand that some New Zealanders have genuine concerns and fears about 1080 in relation to the environment, water, animal welfare and wild food sources. We urge them to seek out www.1080thefacts.co.nz that addresses these issues.

New Zealanders have a choice: use 1080 to protect our native species over large-scale wilderness areas or end up with collapsing and denuded forests and our native species restricted to pest-free islands and fenced sanctuaries.

https://www.doc.govt.nz/standupfor1080

Lou Sanson, Director-General, Department of Conservation

Chris Allen, Board Member, Federated Farmers

Barry Harris, Chair, OSPRI

Kevin Hague, Chief Executive, Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society

Livia Esterhazy, Chief Executive, WWF-NZ

Predator Free 2050 is an ambitious goal which will need a range of pest control measures to achieve, including some not yet invented or feasible.

Until science and technology come up with effective alternatives, the choice is 1080 or death to native birds, bats, insects and lizards, and the destruction of native fauna.


Confusing education with promotion

May 4, 2018

Parents are understandably upset that their children are being taught how to use illegal drugs at school:

. . . “I applaud the school for providing all of the information they have provided,” Drug Foundation executive director Ross Bell said.

Bell said people needed to understand the context that the material was used in.

“This booklet hasn’t been given out as part of a drug curriculum, it’s been given out as a wider social investigation on various issues with meth in this country,” Bell said.

Massey High School distributed the “information notice” to Level 3 health students but say it was provided by the Ministry of Health.

A Ministry of Health spokesperson said the booklet and associated website information weren’t “specifically” designed for use in a school environment.

“The MethHelp booklet was designed to support adult users to stop, to reduce use and to stay healthy.”

. . . An Auckland mother told the Herald she was shocked at the school’s attempt to legitimise its actions.

Sarah Clare, whose son is a Year 11 student at the school, said the material was encouraging drug use, not stopping it.

“Even if the rest of the book is saying it’s bad for you, that one page of comments saying, ‘meth isn’t that bad it’s how you use it’ – contradicts the rest of the booklet.”

Clare said that comment – “be discreet and only keep less than 5 grams for personal use” – was shocking.

This isn’t education, it’s promotion, and promotion of criminal behaviour at that.

Bell said that comment was about giving drug-users advice about how they can reduce harms around drug share.

“There is the harm of criminal convictions and we are just saying there are those risks if you parade a quantity of drugs for supply … that’s just practical information that’s been out there for a long time.”

Would they tell their pupils how to reduce the harm while they were stealing, raping or murdering?  These are illegal acts too and people are more likely to carry out these criminal acts under the influence of meth.

Anti-drug organisation Methcon said the Drug Foundation had pushed the “harm minimisation” approach for at least the last decade.

“The theory is flawed and dangerous, particularly when discussing methamphetamine. Meth is the most addictive drug. It is impossible to use the drug in a safe way.

“Methcon’s approach is one of ‘harm elimination’. We believe that the bar needs to be set high and that the best way to avoid meth harm is to not use at all.” . . 

The school wouldn’t try to tell its pupils how to use tobacco in a safe way and it’s not illegal.

Using meth is not safe for the users or for other people who may become victims of the violent and irrational behavior it leads to.

If pupils are using meth, the school’s responsibility should be to get them the help they need to deal with their addiction.

It should not be normalising its use and increasing the risk of pupils who aren’t using it being tempted to do so.


Would you overrule dead’s wishes to not donate?

June 8, 2016

This morning’s Paul Henry poll asks would you overrule a dead family member’s wish to donate their organs?

Of course I wouldn’t and 87% of respondents agree with me.

I am listed as a donor on my driving licence and have discussed this with my family who are happy to abide by that.

If any of my family wanted to be a donor I wouldn’t dream of going against their wishes.

If they hadn’t made their wishes clear then I would be prepared to permit organ donations.

A more troubling scenario would be if I knew they didn’t want to be a donor but their organs could help someone else.

I would really struggle with that decision.

I wouldn’t necessarily follow all a dead family member’s wishes. If he or she wanted a private funeral, for example, I might not keep to their instructions.

Funerals are about the dead but for the living and my preference is, with a very few exceptions, for public celebrations of people’s lives.

Making a decision against someone’s wishes about a funeral like that wouldn’t worry me.

However, the idea of going against someone’s wishes to not donate organs is harder. That thought does trouble me but so too does the idea of failing to make a decision that could make a huge difference to someone else’s quality, and/or length of life.

The poll was prompted by Health Minister Jonathan Coleman’s announcement of consultation on organ donation.

“Organ transplantation is a life-saving treatment and for people with organ failure it’s often the only option available,” says Dr Coleman.

“While we already have many of the elements of an effective organ donation and transplantation service in New Zealand we can do better.

“The consultation document sets out a number of changes which could increase our deceased organ donation rate.

“This includes raising awareness, standardising the way hospitals identify potential donors and how donation is discussed with families.

“A suggestion as to how we could better support the hospital team is to improve the driver licence system so medical staff are informed if someone has indicated they would like to become a donor.”

Demand for transplants in New Zealand, particularly kidneys, continues to rise while our rate of deceased organ donation remains comparatively low at 11.8 donors per million population in 2015.

The Government has invested $8 million in a variety of initiatives aimed at increasing organ donation and transplantation. These included support and education for hospital staff, work to help overcome cultural barriers and donor liaison co-ordinators. 

The consultation document follows a Ministry of Health-led review of deceased organ donation rates. The proposals are based on international best practice, local evidence and advice from an expert advisory group.

You can find out more on the issue and how to make a submission at the Ministry of Health.


Petition gives wrong impression

May 21, 2014

When I saw a Facebook post asking people to sing Labour’s petition to save the Poison Helpline I thought it was being axed.

That is no doubt the impression Labour wants to give, but it’s not the right one.

The Ministry of Health, which funds the service isn’t planning to axe it, it is proposing merging it with a range of other triage, advice, counselling and referral services.

This integrated service will provide consistent, high quality advice across the country sign posting callers to appropriate services and care.

The service will provide a multi-channel approach including telephone triage and phone advice; text; email; phone applications; social media and web-based services. The enhanced telehealth service is expected to:

  • reduce the pressure on after hours primary care (ie ambulance services, doctors and emergency departments making good use of local health and injury services across the country)
  • be integrated to improve effectiveness in the development, monitoring and advertising of these services.

Services are currently delivered by a mix of commercial, university, and non-government organisations that together handle around 2 million calls by the public per year. The included services are: Healthline, Quitline, Poisonline, Immunisation advice for the public, Alcohol and drug helpline, Depression helplines and Gambling Helpline. . . .

Having one number to call would make it easier for people to the right help sooner, rather than ringing one, finding it’s not the right one and having to call another.

For example people might call  Healthline now instead of the Poisonline and even a very few minutes delay in getting the right advice could have very serious consequences.

A single number might make it easier for people who feel embarrassed about calling a drug or alcohol helpline too.

If the triaging under the new system works well, people will get the right help and get it sooner.

Instead of no service which the petition suggests, the merger should provide better service.


Good evaluation crucial to protect vulnerable

May 6, 2013

I used to evaluate residential services of intellectually disabled people.

We worked in teams of three and each team had at least one person who had a family member with a  disability.

We never worked in our home areas but we still had a personal interest in high standards of care and would evaluate homes with the idea of how we’d feel about a family member living there.

We talked to managers, staff, residents and their families and built up a comprehensive picture of the services provided and people providing them.

We were there not just to give services a warrant of fitness but to ensure the people receiving them were enjoying the ride. We weren’t just looking at safety but at comfort and quality of life.

We gave a verbal report before we left. the team leader then did a comprehensive written report and also worked with staff to implement recommendations for improvements.

Reports went to the Ministry of Health and any service which didn’t meet acceptable standards would lose its funding.

If that system of evaluation was operating properly there would have been no question of a horror house like this one staying open.

 A mute teenager was left alone in a paddock to eat grass like an animal – one of a catalogue of horrors from an investigation into a home for the intellectually disabled.

Clients at Parklands, a residential facility in Pukekawa, south of Auckland, were forced to live in crowded, dirty conditions surrounded by more than 35 small dogs, fed inadequate food, neglected by untrained staff, provided with no meaningful activities and denied access to their own money, according to the Ministry of Health. . .

The residents have been let down not just by the people who were supposed to be looking after them but by the system that checks up on the provision of services.

It’s not enough to provide funding for services. A high standard of evaluation is crucial to ensure the protection of vulnerable people who receive them.


Right prescription

October 22, 2009

The health system has been ailing.

Labour’s prescription was to change the system and increase the budget.

National’s priority is front line services – better, sooner more convenient care, as the pre-election policy promised.

Health Minister Tony Ryall has made a good start with an announcement of changes to backroom functions which should free hundreds of millions of dollars to be spent on frontline services over the next five years.

“Cabinet has agreed to a number of proposals from the Ministerial Review Group’s report ‘Meeting the Challenge’ that will greatly improve national and regional cooperation and reduce duplication of back office functions, ” the Minister said.

As a package, the changes will move up to an estimated $700 million in savings over five years to frontline services. That would buy about 16,000 heart bypass operations or build two large city hospitals.  The changes are also expected to reduce the health system bureaucracy by up to 500 administration jobs. These would be managed as much as possible through attrition and voluntary redundancy.

“The National Government inherited a public health system that wasn’t well placed to cope with the significant financial and clinical challenges facing it. There is too much duplication that has led to poor regional and national performance and a track to financial crisis.”

 The loss of 500 jobs is not insignificant, especially if they can’t all be handled through attrition and voluntary redundancy, and backroom functions are important. But each of the 21 health boards doesn’t need to perform all of their own individually and money saved in the backroom will be available to do more for front line services.

“The Government wants better coordination between District Health Boards (DHBs) and the Ministry of Health, and we want neighbouring DHBs working better together to improve services. Clinical networks will be a big part of this cooperation.”

The major changes include setting up a new National Health Board (NHB) within the Ministry of Health. The NHB will focus on supervising the $9.7 billion of public health funding the 21 DHBs spend on hospitals and primary health care.

The new NHB will manage national planning and funding of all IT, workforce planning and capital investment. It will also take national responsibility for vulnerable health services such as paediatric oncology.

Work will also start on consolidating the 21 DHBs’ back office administrative functions such as payroll and bill payments.

The Otago and Southland DHBs are consulting the public now on a possible merger and there has been little public opposition.  

Other boards may not be ready for that yet, but co-operation and handing over of services which can be handled centrally will be a good place to start in reducing duplicate costs in 21 separate health kingdoms.


Patient travel & accommodation aid increased

March 30, 2009

The centralisation of specialist health services may be supported by sound clinical and financial reasons but it does increase the costs for people who live outside the main centres.

Health Minister Tony Ryall has recognised that by increasing the amount patients can claim under the National Travel Assistance scheme for the first time in 20 years.

The eight cent increase takes the assistance up to 28 cents a kilometre and the accommodation rate has also been increased to $100 a night.

 

No-one is pretending this will fully cover travel and accommodation costs for patients.

 

The NTA support has always been a help rather than a reimbursement. But in tough financial times every bit extra will help, especially for people who have health issues that are not easy to manage close to home,” Mr Ryall said.

 

When you choose to live in the country or a small town you accept that you won’t get the same level of health services which are available in cities but long distance or frequent travel and accommodation can be expensive and add to the stress of illness.

 

Most referrals to specialists will be from GPs rather than other specialists so won’t qualify for the assistance so the increase in assistance isn’t a miracle cure, but it will provide some relief.

 

Information on who is eligible and how to claim is available on the Ministry of Health website.


It’s not what they say

March 6, 2009

Does the Ministry of Health read George Orwell or was the  memo of words and phrases to be used with the new government their own idea?

Some of the words and phrases the Ministry of Health sees as complicated jargon more suited to the previous government include: ‘social marketing’, ‘organised efforts of society’, ‘public health’, ‘strengthening community action’ and ‘social and economic determinants’.

A memo has been sent around banning the words and phrases and asking staff to replace them with new words and phrases described as the “in” words which include: ‘prevention’, ‘personal choices/decision’, ‘socio-cultural aspects of human behaviour’, ‘productivity’ and ‘value for money’.

The Minister wasn’t impressed:

Health Minister Tony Ryall says he didn’t order the list and doesn’t support it: “It’s just been dreamt up by some people in the Ministry of Health and I’d actually rather they spent a lot more time putting some focus on health service than writing up a list like this.”

If they’ve spent too much of the last nine years wasting time on things like this they may not know how to focus on what really matters.


Policy root of DHB problem

September 5, 2008

The Otago District Health Board faces cost cutting because of a budgeted deficit of $7.3 million.

At the root of this problem is the wrong assumption that Otago was over-funded.

Population-based funding is good in theory and may even work in practice when adjustments are made for factors such as age and rurality providing it is based on realistic budgets.

But when it was introduced the Minsitry of Health started by saying Otago was over funded and required it to reduce costs. Instead of working out how to bring other areas up to Otago’s standards, the bureaucrats told Otago it had to get down to the lower cost per person ratio in other areas and the board has been trying to do more with less ever since.

Over funding was simply a bureaucratic judgement based on a wrong assumption. The deficit Otago is now facing and services like the Otago Community Hopsice and Plunket complaining they haven’t got enough money to provide their services are evidence of that.


No pay rise for non-DHB staff

August 27, 2008

Oamaru Hospital support workers are missing out on a pay rise because the Ministry of Health doesn’t recognise that staff at smaller hospitals aren’t employed by District Health Boards.

Last year the Ministry of Health provided DHBs with funds to boost wages for low paid staff but gave only enough to pay DHBs’ direct employees.

Unfortunately for Oamaru Hospital staff they are not direct employees of a DHB. They are employed by Compass Group which is contracted by Waitaki District Health Services and WDHS is contracted and funded by the Otago District Health Board.

This is not the first time Oamaru staff have been disadvantaged by the Ministry providing funds for DHB employees but not those at hospitals contracted to a DHB. Nurses missed out on Multi Employer Collective Agreement rates for the same reason in 2003.

I was deputy chair of WDHS at the time and remember the frustration as we wanted to work with staff to pressure the ODHB, ministry and government for more money. But the Employment relations Act stopped us from talking to staff directly, so we had to work through the union which called a strike.

Eventually the ODHB agreed to fund WDHS to meet MECA rates for nurses even though it wasn’t funded by the Ministry. However, someone didn’t learn the lesson and now Oamaru support staff – cleaners, kitchen workers, orderlies and security – are missing out on pay rises given to people doing the same jobs at other hospitals.

The Ministry doesn’t appear to realise how health services work down here. When what was then Healthcare Otago announced it was pulling out of rural hopsitals a decade ago the Waitaki District Council leaped into the breach and formed a Local Authority Trading Enterprise – WDHS – to run the hospital. It’s the only LATE operating a hospital and it’s been doing so successfully for 10 years except for the on-going problem over funding because the ODHB doesn’t get additional funds for staff not in its direct employment.

The charitable interpretation is that it’s bureaucratic blindness which prevents the Ministry from understanding that we do things differently in the provinces. A more cynical view is that its political ideology which won’t accept that publicly funded private hospitals work. But whatever the cause its the staff who miss out on pay increases.


EFA bad for our health

August 19, 2008

Okay, that’s a silly headline but it’s also a silly Act because it’s constraining the Ministry of Health’s advertising programme about the cervical cancer vaccine.

The new electoral law has forced the Ministry of Health to keep its advertising for the cervical cancer vaccination programme at a low level until after the election.

The human papilloma virus vaccination programme starts next month.

The ministry acknowledged yesterday that because of nervousness about falling foul of the Electoral Finance Act, it was sticking to just brochures and posters for primary health care centres – until after the poll.

Not until November and December will it crank up its full promotional campaign, including TV, radio, print and online advertising, for its vaccination programme with Gardasil, which protects against four strains of HPV, two of which are linked to 70 per cent of cervical cancers.

… The ministry’s deputy director of public health, Fran McGrath, said last night that in developing its promotion of the vaccination programme, it took guidance from the commission and Office of the Auditor-General, plus legal advice.

“The content and timing of what the ministry planned did not need to be changed.”

No? Then why wait until after the election to crank up the campaign?

Mike Taylor, country manager of CSL Biotherapies New Zealand, which supplies the vaccine  said that the company had consulted lawyers to ensure its advertisements wouldn’t be considered political.

“[Our legal] advice is we do need to be careful: as long as we are not referring to the Government, and not connecting them to this campaign, we should be okay.”

When the law becomes farcial the Act is an ass. So too are Labour and its allies who designed it and  steamrolled it through parliament over soundly based objections from people and organisations across the political spectrum and many  others without poltical bias

Hat tip: Inquiring Mind


Mothering not always natural

June 30, 2008

Deborah Coddington  is right to be concerned about the lack of care new mothers and their babies are getting from our health system.

Current policy concerning mothers and babies is to get them out of the hospital as soon as possible, regardless of how they are coping.

I blame the feminists who, in declaring quite rightly most deliveries are straightforward and mothers are not ill, went overboard in their quest for minimising hospital care (especially if male obstetricians or general practitioners were in charge of the birth) and made mothers feel pressured to get off the delivery trolley, pick up their blinking newborns and sail home pretending they could cope.

When our children were born 23, 21 and 19 years ago it was usual for women to have 5 days in hospital following a normal delivery and up to 10 days after a caesarean.

Now Ministry of Health policy stipulates that the Lead Maternity Carer will determine when mother and baby are clinically ready to be discharged; and that this is usually within 48 hours of the birth at least a day before breast milk comes in.

  

The Ministry’s list of reasons for delaying discharge includes feeding problems, so in theory mothers and their babies are able to stay until breast feeding is properly established. But this isn’t what happens in practice: women are often discharged within hours of birth and some maternity centres even offer incentives such as free napkins to encourage early discharge.

 

 Some women are happy to get home as soon as possible after delivery and of course should be free to do so; others may be unable, or choose not to breast feed. But many wish to feed their babies themselves and some of these need the immediate assistance which is available 24 hours a day in maternity centres to do so.

 

Without that help there is an increased risk babies will fail to thrive and mothers will develop mastitis or opt for bottle feeding in desperation.

 

I haven’t found any research into the link between feeding problems and our appalling record for violence; but an unhappy baby and the unexpected expense of formula will put strain on a family.

 

A birth blip has put pressure on maternity services and even without that it isn’t sensible to tie up tertiary and secondary hospital beds with well women. It may be better to establish mother care units but however it is done we need facilities that ensure 24-hour, on the spot assistance and advice is available from lactation specialists until breast feeding is established.


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