Resort’s STI shambles

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A Southern District Health Board manager has questioned her own organisation’s lack of information about sexually transmitted infections.

Documents obtained by Mountain Scene show an email chain between DHB staffers regarding an Official Information Act request filed by Scene about STI rates in Queenstown.

Scene had asked for the number of people treated in an attempt to determine the extent of sexual health issues in the resort.

In one email, primary care and population health/ strategy, pri-mary and community general manager Mary Cleary Lyons asks “do we really not know this or at least some of it?”

“How are the providers of STI services paid without submitting some evidence about numbers tested and treated? Also how do we contribute to national statistics about STIs if we don’t know this?”

She says there must be some collection of data “given that these are infectious diseases”.

But the DHB isn’t fronting up.

Scene initially requested an interview with chief executive Chris Fleming, or another relevant staff member, about Cleary Lyons’ comments, why the information is not monitored by the DHB, and what flow-on effects that has in terms of treatment and funding, last Thursday.

An emailed statement attributed to primary and community medical director Dr Hywel Lloyd was provided yesterday.

The statement didn’t address the concerns raised by Cleary Lyons in the emails, other than to say the DHB, Family Planning and WellSouth are “working collect-ively to progress the improvement of data collection with our laboratory provider across the district”.

Lloyd says the DHB ensures data from its sexual health clinics are routinely uploaded to national data sets.

But in Queenstown, testing and treatment is provided by GPs, meaning information isn’t added to those data sets.

In that instance, “the laboratory will notify to ESR (the Institute for Environmental Science and Research) positive results as directed by the ministry”.

Both the DHB and the Ministry of Health previously admitted data on STIs is only collected at a health board level – meaning they can’t look at infection rates in individual towns.

At the time DHB boss Chris Fleming said GPs are not required or able to report data on to the national sexual health data set collected by ESR.

daisy.hudson@scene.co.nz