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Who Are We?

Innovation and Resourcefulness

about us

For New Zealanders the West Coast – Te Tai Poutini – holds a special place in the heart. It’s the place where you’ll still find the rugged individual and open and friendly communities that our national literature celebrates, home to the twin treasures of Pounamu and Gold, to New Zealand’s treasure trove of conservation values and staggering landscapes, and New Zealand’s true adventure and outdoor capital.

Stretched out along a thin strip of flat land between the mighty Southern Alps and the Tasman Sea, the West Coast is New Zealand’s most sparsely populated, isolated and most rural district, creating special challenges for the provision of health services.

Relative to most parts of New Zealand, West Coasters experience socioeconomic disadvantage, but a richness of community and environment. In recent years the economy and population have been growing, and both health status and life expectancy have been improving. The inequality of health status between Māori and non-Māori is smaller on the West Coast than anywhere else in New Zealand, but the West Coast DHB is still committed to closing this gap and has an important Treaty-based relationship with Tangata Whenua to achieve this.

The West Coast District Health Board is rising to these challenges, setting out to be New Zealand’s Centre of Excellence for rural health services. We want to be the best at what we do and to deliver to the people of the West Coast the very best quality services possible with the resources we have.

Right now the West Coast DHB is collaborating with the Ministry of Health to develop a standard for models of care in New Zealand rural areas and funding to enable the West Coast DHB to provide this. The project also incorporates new facilities in most locations from which services are provided on the Coast.

To do all this we need to be innovative, resourceful, and to just get on and do it – all, in fact, West Coast traditions. We need people with skills, ideas and initiative, and we offer you hard work, personal fulfillment – and paradise!

If you’re thinking about a health service career where you can really make a difference, the West Coast is for you. Talk to us today.

Working in Primary Care and Community Services

Most district health boards in New Zealand are not involved significantly in primary care. As with so much else, however, the Coast's unique situation has required an unusual solution. Time and again the DHB has stepped in to acquire general practices to ensure that a community receives good access to primary care and is now the major owner of general practices on the West Coast. Health professionals working in primary care are employed under multi employer collective agreements, and all practices belong to the high-performing West Coast Primary Health Organisation.

The DHB's ownership of primary care services has allowed it to begin to develop true interdisciplinary teams in primary care and to integrate traditional general practice services with community services and, in some cases, inpatient care.

Rural Nurse Specialists

Our twelve Rural Nurse Specialists who cover the nine West Coast rural area’s 24/7 are based in Haast, Franz Josef, Fox Glacier, Whataroa, Hari Hari, Moana, Reefton, Ngakawau and Karamea.

They are primary health care nurses with advanced nursing postgraduate training.

They are responsible for pre-hospital emergency care, and are certified PRIME responders. In emergencies they are trained to cannulate/ intubate / defibrillate / as well as diagnose and treat. Their accident and emergency management also includes transportation of patients, and critical incident debriefing.

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