Primary healthcare news, information & resources


What we've been reading - March


Ministry of Health consultation document on the new Drug and Theraputics Bill (I read it so you don't have to) - thoughts from Dr Jo Scott-Jones

The Ministry of Health (MOH) are consulting on a new Drug and Therapeutics Bill and have put out a 166 page document describing the proposed changes and a helpful website with PowerPoint slides and podcasts explaining the detail. Submissions close 18 April.

The links to the resources and the online consultation tool are here.

I read it so you don't have to. Although feel free if you have a few hours to spare. The changes proposed are really important but could be hidden in the massive number of questions they ask for feedback on.

Key issues

The key issues for me are on changes to the rules around health professional scope of practice, the lack of any change to drug advertising to consumers, the impact of changing regulation on pharmacy and the regulation of medical devices.

The most meaningful areas to look at are sections C3, C6, C8, and C10. This will take about 20 minutes of your time. Have a read yourself of the background information in these sections and fill in your opinion.

For what it's worth, here's what I thought...

  • Health providers - there is a challenge here to standing orders, which are key particularly in rural communities. We need to ensure they remain part of the health system as they are a great stepping stone to expanding experience and confidence.
  • Medical devices - the regulations may well have an impact on software and decision support tools as well as hardware.
  • Direct to consumer advertising - the regulation needs to change to stop this in New Zealand because it is not informative to patients, it is designed to sell them things, not to inform them, and it does have an impact on prescribing. As we are trained to take a "what matters to you?" approach to patients, rather than "what's the matter with you?" we learn to provide the patient with what they want, rather than what they need. Direct to consumer advertising feeds off this paradigm shift and feeds drug company profits.
  • Pharmacy changes - the Bill asks for different ways to ensure pharmacists remain in charge of pharmacies, and asks if other health professionals should be able to supply and dispense medications. What do you think? I don't think we will go back to where we came from, and reckon let's all be able to supply and dispense, pharmacy can both prescribe and supply so why not everyone else? It'll improve access to medicines for the community. 


New Zealand ranks bottom of developed countries on youth mortality rates - thoughts from Dr David Maplesden, GP liaison

A sobering report from the Nuffield Trust compares UK performance on various youth health parameters with other countries of similar economic background, including New Zealand. 

Interesting reading. New Zealand had the greatest proportion of population in the 10-24 year age group out of the 19 nations compared. But rather bleak performance by New Zealand in terms of overall youth mortality (19th out of 19), and youth suicide rates (19th out of 19), and in terms of teenage pregnancy and asthma deaths (18th out of 19). 

These statistics are worth examining when considering the youth focus of practice development plans.  

View the document summary and commentary here.

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