More support for GPs and Māori in local healthcare

Dr Claire Isham, the new WBOPPHO Clinical Director.

Two familiar faces from the Tauranga healthcare community have joined the Western Bay of Plenty Primary Health Organisation in new roles established to support both GPs and those working to improve Māori health outcomes.

After 11 years working as a GP for Ngāti Kahu Hauora in Bethlehem, Dr Claire Isham has joined the PHO as its new Clinical Director.

Kiri Peita, formerly Senior Portfolio Manager for the Māori Health Planning and Funding team at Bay of Plenty District Health Board, is the PHO’s new Manager, Māori Health.

Kiri Peita, WBOPPHO’s new Manager, Māori Health.

Claire’s role involves developing new programmes to support general practice in the PHO, ensuring existing programmes are meeting the needs of general practice and the local population, and promoting clinical governance.

She will also be involved in GP education, supporting the PHO’s Health and Wellness Services, and be the PHO’s GP liaison with Tauranga Hospital.

As well as working as a GP, Claire has been a GP educator for the Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners for the past five years.

She says one of the issues currently facing GPs is the push to provide healthcare that has traditionally been provided in the secondary sector.

“As new treatments come along that are accessible to primary care there is an expectation that it should be done there. That puts pressure on GPs, who are already working at capacity.

“There is also a change in focus for patients who are used to accessing care in the secondary sector and have to get used to new processes.”

GPs also have to grapple with new technology and ensure they are not being left behind, says Claire.

“As new technologies come along, we have to try to keep up with them and make it work for us and our patients. We need to ensure the technologies are robust and safe.”

The new Manager, Māori Health role reflects the PHO’s commitment to reducing inequalities and improving Māori health outcomes.

Kiri Peita (Ngāi Te Rangi and Ngāti Ranginui) originally trained as a psychopaedic nurse at Mangere Hospital and Training School, looking after physically and mentally disabled young adults.

In Tauranga she worked for Māori health provider Te Kupenga Hauora o Tauranga Moana for 10 years and another 12 years with the Bay of Plenty District Health Board.

“When I first started at the DHB, the then general manager Janet McLean said, ‘you’re in the best job to help your people’, and it was. I was able to influence some change but always had great support.

“I always saw myself as a public servant to the people. When you work for your Māori whānau they’re never afraid to let you know what you haven’t done, what you’re doing wrong and what you need to do. You accept that as part of your responsibility.”

Kiri says there is plenty of evidence to suggest there are disparities in Māori health in the community but commended the PHO for its success in reducing some of these disparities with targeted interventions.

“Breast and cervical screening programmes are among those, and the Health and Wellness Services team has been doing some fantastic work, shifting results which have been quite stagnant in previous years. That is due to a concerted effort by the team.

“If we are going to make a difference, we need a lot of champions throughout the organisation.”