Update No. 1 - 18 January, 2024

Tēnā koutou katoa


Welcome to the first Clinical Director Update for 2024! I have had good break up in Central, and as a girl from the Bay of Plenty, it was great to have a properly hot summer! Its another busy year ahead of us all in health. I will be looking with interest at how the national landscape unfolds in health services, and hope for greater focus and funding into primary and community care services.


Key points today:

  • Connecting Now – Telephone Interpreting Service confirmed pin number

  • Toitū Takata – update from the team

  • IV Antibiotics still available for pyelonephritis and sepsis but not cellulitis

  • Letter to ECE centres about conjunctivitis

  • Dunedin School of Medicine – Rural Health Module Update

  • Transfer of Care Framework – HealthPathways page

  • Quarterly childhood immunisation data published

  • Te Whatu Ora Southern Disability Strategy Quarterly Forum

  • CPR Courses January and February

  • Advance Care Planning Workshops

  • Otago Community Hospice – education resources and workshops

  • The Occasional Pain Practitioner Education Day

  • New health information and services website

  • Summer Covid-19 booster recommendation direct message campaign

  • Why does Covid-19 run rampant in December?


What’s new


Connecting Now – Telephone Interpreting Service confirmed pin number (14354)

Over the holiday break we communicated via an urgent update that there was a temporary PIN number to use for Connecting Now telephone interpreting services.

We are pleased to advise that our permanent PIN number is now in place and should be used when requesting a phone interpreter from Connecting Now. The Southern health pathway has further information on interpreter services https://southern.communityhealthpathways.org/29346.htm

In summary

Connecting Now:

  • In unplanned situations, on-demand interpreters are available 24/7 by telephone or video consult

  • To book, phone 09 871 0402. When prompted, use code 14354

Using the above pin ensure the call is invoiced to WellSouth.

If you utilised the temporary pin 15913 (as advised on 29th December via urgent message) please send details of the usage to Carol Atmore via email outlining time and date so we can advise MoH. This pin is no longer available.


Toitū Takata – update from the team

Toitū Takata will be available to all practices on Wednesday 31st January.

Thank you to the practices who are trialing Toitū Takata this month, this is providing valuable feedback, and we are making final adjustments before opening the programme to all practices. 

To support the launch of Toitū Takata, we are holding a series of presentations on the clinical aspects of the programme, details are on our Workforce Development site: WellSouth | Toitū Takata – Webinars. These will be recorded and available on our website.

Drop in webinars:

We will also be holding general Q&A drop in webinars in early February, these will be an opportunity for practice staff to have their questions answered, join via the links below;

The development of Toitū Takata has been a significant piece of work, and we would like to thank everyone who has been involved in the development of this programme.

Caroline Fraser, Long Term Conditions Project Manager will be on leave from Monday 22nd January, and return to work on Monday 5th February.

If you have any questions about Toitū Takata in this period, please contact your Practice Relationship Manager or Long Term Conditions Nurse, their contact details can be found here: Practice Relationship Manager & Nurse Team – Jan 2024


Choosing who to invite onto the programme

The following input from our Clinical Advisor Māori, Dr Miriam Ketu-McKenzie (also a registered clinical psychologist) may be helpful, as you consider which patients to invite to be on the Toitū Takata programme:

'In my capacity as Clinical Advisor Māori, I thought I would write a few words to support those of you who have to choose who does and does not receive a place under the current Toitū Tākata programme. In lieu of providing an algorithm that weights individual demographic factors, such as age and ethnicity, consider that 80% of what impacts a person’s health, are non-clinical factors, including but not limited to: Housing, social status, employment and food security.

Finding out how many people are living in the same household as your patient (especially the number of children under age 18), finding out whether or not there is mildew/adequate ventilation in their home, or whether they are adequately warm at night and have access to nutritious food; finding out whether or not your patient is in work, or if loneliness is a problem for them – those are all variables considered to be social determinants of health, which are known to exacerbate poor health outcomes for those with long term conditions. Knowing the answers to those questions might assist your decision making process while also ensuring that those with the greatest needs are met with the most support.

Feel free to contact me on miriama.ketu-mckenzie@wellsouth.org.nz  with any questions or comments.


IV Antibiotics still available for pyelonephritis and sepsis but not cellulitis
Changes will be live from 23 January 2024

In the update from 7 December 2023, we advised of upcoming changes to the  IV antibiotics programme, you can view the update here: Clinical Director Update – 7 December 2023

From 23rd January 2024, there will no longer be an option to select cellulitis as a presenting concern under the IV antibiotics programme in the WellSouth portal. Cellulitis follow up claims will also be removed.

We will continue to fund IV antibiotics for Pyelonephritis, and sepsis.

Please note your current service code WPCIVI remains valid, but you will need to change the description to POAC IV Antibiotics (currently it is Cellulitis IV).

We would like to hear from you if you encounter situations where Cellulitis could not be treated orally using the southern health pathways guidance: https://southern.communityhealthpathways.org/21918.htm

Please let myself or Katrina Braxton katrina.braxton@wellsouth.org.nz know.

View the programme sheet here: IV Antibiotics Programme Sheet


Letter to ECE centres about conjunctivitis

Following feedback from practices, we have written a collaborative letter between WellSouth and Public Health via the Ministry of Education. This has been sent to Early Child Centres this week, around management of conjunctivitis and policies requiring antibiotic eyedrops. The letter is linked below for information and can be used to address this directly with ECEs if the issue arises.

Letter to ECE Centres about conjunctivitis


Dunedin School of Medicine – Rural Health Module Update

Please read the below letter from Dr Peter Radue to Rural GP teaching practices, about changes ahead of the 5th Year Rural Health Module.

Letter to Rural GP teaching practices


Transfer of Care Framework – HealthPathways page

Following the recent finalisation of the Transfer of Care policy between secondary and primary care, an active Health Pathways page is now available with links to the document, and the process for following up concerns and contacts for feedback or support.

The page also highlights where the document can be found at the secondary care end (in case you need to point them in the right direction).

Search Health Pathways for ‘Transfer of Care’, or via this link: https://southern.communityhealthpathways.org/152950.htm


Quarterly Childhood Immunisation Data Published

The Childhood Immunisation Data for the most recent quarter coverage to 30 September 2023 have been published on the Te Whatu Ora website.

National childhood immunisation coverage rates for the period 1 July 2023 to 30 September 2023 are overall lower than for the previous reporting period (30 April 2023 – 30 June 2023).

Rates for the latest quarter show 82.7 percent of children fully immunised for their age at 8 months, 83.0 percent at 24 months, and 80.5 percent at five years.

Southern Data shows comparative cover of 90.4 % at 8 months; 91.2% at 24 months and 86.9% at five years – so well done, but we still have a way to go to get back to 95% coverage for best protection.

The first interim HPV immunisation coverage update on rates for those born in 2010 show 68.4 percent of rangatahi have received their first dose, with 38.8 percent fully immunised. 

We acknowledge the commitment of everyone across the sector to lifting childhood immunisation rates. The data reaffirms a real and urgent need to continue to actively work together so that our tamariki and rangatahi can grow up free from the risks of serious illness caused by vaccine-preventable diseases.


Opportunities to be involved


Pharmac consultation: Proposal to enable childhood vaccinations through community pharmacy

Te Whatu Ora is looking to enable pharmacists to give certain childhood vaccinations. To support this change, Pharmac is proposing to remove the Xpharm restriction from the following vaccines in the Pharmaceutical Schedule from 1 March 2024:

  • Diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis and polio vaccine

  • Diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio, hepatitis B and haemophilus influenzae type B vaccine

  • Haemophilus influenzae type B vaccine

  • Pneumococcal (PCV13) conjugate vaccine

  • Rotavirus oral vaccine

  • Varicella vaccine [Chickenpox vaccine].

To provide feedback specifically on the proposed removal of the Xpharm restriction, please email Pharmac: vaccines@pharmac.govt.nz by 5pm, Monday 29 January 2024. All feedback received will be shared with Te Whatu Ora.

To ask questions or provide feedback about any other aspect of implementation of this proposal, please email Te Whatu Ora: pharmacy@health.govt.nz.

Further information available on the Pharmac website, and media release.


Te Whatu Ora Southern Disability Strategy Quarterly Forum

Te Whatu Ora Southern invite you to join their upcoming Disability Strategy Quarterly Forum on Wednesday 23rd January at 12pm via Zoom.

The Disability Strategy Quarterly Forum is an open hui where they report to the community on what they are doing towards the operationalisation of their Disability Strategy.

Register here: https://zoom.us/meeting/register/tJ0qf-2rpzwjGNyM3VloguNfB8bvUdfUyJKQ

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

A New Zealand Sign Language Interpreter will be in attendance on the day.

Any questions, please contact Kathryn Harkin at kathryn.harkin@southerndhb.govt.nz.


Upcoming training and webinars


CPR Courses January and February

We are pleased to announce that we have new CPR trainers joining us here at WellSouth. We are currently scheduling our CPR workshops. However, until March, we are running a reduced timetable. Two workshops are available, and spaces are limited. Please ensure your spot by registering via the links below.

Invercargill: Tuesday 23rd of January – Register here: https://wellsouth.arlo.co/register?sgid=fe9d7447d240424b9e3df890a505378c

Dunedin: Tuesday 13th February – Register here: https://wellsouth.arlo.co/register?sgid=132ad9cc4598449680a2267a44492ed8


Advance Care Planning Workshops

Advance Care Planning workshops are now open for registration.
For all information and dates, please click on the following link: https://training.wellsouth.nz/events/577-advance-care-planning/


Otago Community Hospice – education resources and workshops

Otago Community Hospice have a number of palliative care focused education resources and workshops available as well as their podcast series “Ending Life Well”. Whānau resources as well as health provider resources are also available. If you are working within palliative care or would like to provide whānau with more information on palliative care, please see their website: Education | Otago Community Hospice (otagohospice.co.nz)


The Occasional Pain Practitioner Education Day

The New Zealand Pain Society warmly invites you to attend the TOPP Day - The Occasional Pain Practitioner Education Day on Saturday 23 March 2024 in Dunedin.

 Join colleagues for a practical and clinically focused one day workshop which aims to equip you with a toolkit to provide good care for your patients living with pain, including commonly encountered pharmaceuticals and non-pharmacological management strategies.


This event is suitable for any healthcare professional who works with people with pain as part of their broader practice, but outside of specialist pain centres - GPs, practice nurses, HIPs, SMOs, RMOs, community & hospital nurses and physios, OTs, psychologists etc.


Visit The TOPP Day - The Occasional Pain Practitioner Day Pain  - and  Register here

 For more information or questions please contact conferences@w4u.co.nz



Other general information


New health information and services website

Te Whatu Ora's new consumer website info.health.nz is now live.

The new site will eventually replace the current immunise.health.nz website. As well as being easy to understand and navigate, the site will provide one place where people in Aotearoa will have access to consistent, inclusive, and reliable health information.

The immunise.health.nz website will run until the end of March 2024. Up until then the same vaccine information will be available on both websites. 

Immunisation Handbook 2020

The Immunisation Handbook is currently being transitioned from the Manatū Hauora website to the new Te Whatu Ora website.

During this transition period no changes can be made to the Handbook.

It is recommended that you save the Handbook link https://www.health.govt.nz/our-work/immunisation-handbook-2020 rather than a pdf copy as this will always take you to the latest version. Reminder: all Hardcopy Handbooks are now out of date and should be removed from current use.



Covid-19 updates

Summer Covid-19 booster recommendation direct message campaign

Following on from the recently announced new summer booster recommendation, Te Whatu Ora have started to send direct messages to consumers by text, email and letter encouraging them to get a summer Covid-19 booster. These are being sent to Māori and Pacific people 50-64 and everyone aged 65-74 years.

Covid-19 Immunisation Tool Kit Update: refer to the link Covid-19 Immunisation Tool Kit Dec-13 to get the latest information from the Immunisation Advisory Centre (IMAC).


Why does Covid-19 run rampant in December?

While other respiratory diseases tend to favour the colder winter months, Covid-19 has twice unleashed a wave during the start of summer.

Expert Michael Plank says the pattern is interesting. But the University of Canterbury epidemiology professor warned the virus is still fairly novel and may not have had time to settle into a regular yearly cycle.

Covid-19 infections appear to have spiked over the end-of-year holidays, as the country rides a fifth wave of infections and the introduction of a new variant. Wastewater testing and hospitalisations are showing Covid-19 infections reached their highest levels since January 2023, said epidemiologist professor Michael Baker​.

You can view that data here and here. The new Omicron subvariant JN.1 is the fastest-growing variant, with it already accounting for over 60% of new infections in the United States and a what is being called by some a “wave-on-wave” of new infections across the Tasman.

Wastewater graphs for Otago and Southland below:





So I hope that you have had a chance for a bit of rest and relaxation and can start the new year with a clear head and light heart. And if you aren’t feeling that way, remember to reach out to someone you trust to get some support – Christmas can be a great time for some but also a difficult time for others. Remember to put your own seatbelt on first.


Ngā mihi nui