District Health Boards (DHBs) are encouraging as many people as possible to do the Census next Tuesday, 6th March, to ensure the Ministry of Health’s Population-Based Funding Formula is as accurate as possible.

The greater the number of people who take part, the better the formula works, explains Canterbury District Health Board Pacific Portfolio Manager Ngaire Button.

“The big decisions are made based on the information the census brings. Around $16.7 billion is divided up amongst the DHBs. That roughly equates to $3500 per person. We know we have the fastest growing Maori and Pacific populations in the country. Funding here will be severely affected if lots of people don’t do the census.”

The Census is carried out every five years, and this is the first time the census is to be done online. Every household in the country has been sent an access code to use to go online to fill out their census forms before midnight Tuesday 6th March.

Different DHBs are employing different techniques to encourage the uptake of the census by their respective populations.

Northland DHB has sent out 30,000 postcards titled My Health Counts So I am Counted, to highlight the importance of taking part in the Census.

The DHB has also explained that the number of people enrolled with a General Practitioner (GP) told the DHB that there are thousands of more people living in Northland than the 2013 Census indicated.

The DHB reiterates that it only gets funded based on the Census population, not the population registered with the GP.

The online format has been criticised by health professionals and support groups around the country.

Online forms, as opposed to census workers going physically to each house in New Zealand, as in previous years, is being cited as a barrier to participation for some, says Button.

“IT BEING ONLINE HAS BROUGHT CHALLENGES FOR SOME, INCLUDING THE ELDERLY THE DISABLED AND MANY WHANAU WHO DON’T HAVE THE MEANS TO DO IT TECHNOLOGICALLY.”

Her colleague Canterbury DHB chief executive David Meates concurs, saying it’s important for people to help Canterbury-based family/whanau, or neighbours, especially those who are elderly or who may not have access to computers.

“When people complete the Census it means we have better information on which to base our planning for future health services. It will help provide a clearer picture of who we need to provide hospital, primary care, and community health services for. Having enough resource to do that is vital and the Census is the best way to ensure this,” says Mr Meates.

The Auckland DHB is also telling its patients how important it is to take part in the Census.

Census 2018 field workers will be in Auckland City Hospital and in Starship Children’s Hospital all day Tuesday to help those who have been unable to complete their form prior to their admission. Patients and whanau have been reminded to bring their lap top and code with them.

The workers will also have paper forms available, and have simple instructions available in English, Tongan, Korean, Samoan and Simplified Chinese. Charge nurses on duty will be able to direct people to the Census workers.

For more information visit www.census.govt.nz.

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