Cormack D, Masters-Awatere B, Lee A, Rata A, Boulton A. Understanding the context of hospital transfers and away-from-home hospitalisations for Māori. The New Zealand Medical Journal. 2022 Nov 11;135(1565):41-50.
In this paper, 10% of acute hospital admissions, transfers and arranged admissions for Māori are to hospitals outside of their home domicile which increases with higher levels of deprivation. With around 25% of Māori living rurally the burden of travel is even greater. Let’s hope Te Whatu Ora & Te Aka Whai Ora make this a priority in addressing health disparities.
In Aotearoa New Zealand, people regularly travel away from their home to receive hospital care. While the role of whānau support for patients in hospital is critical for Māori, there is little information about away-from-home hospitalisations. This paper describes the frequency and patterning of away-from-home hospitalisations and inter-hospital transfers for Māori. Data from the National Minimum Dataset (NMDS), for the 6-year period of 1 January 2009–31 December 2014, were analysed. Basic frequencies, means and descriptive statistics were produced using SAS software. We found that more than 10% of all routine hospitalisations constituted an away-from-home hospitalisation for Māori; that is, a hospitalisation that was in a district health board (DHB) other than the DHB of usual residence for the patient. One quarter (25.19%) of transfer hospitalisations were to a DHB other than the patient’s DHB of domicile. Away-from-home hospital admissions increase for Māori as deprivation increases for both routine and transfer admissions, with over half of Māori hospital admissions among people who live in areas of high deprivation. This analysis aids in understanding away-from-home hospitalisations for Māori whānau, the characteristics associated with these types of hospitalisations and supports the development and implementation of policies which better meet whānau Māori needs. The cumulative impact of the need to travel to hospital for care, levels of poverty and a primarily reimbursement-based travel assistance system all perpetuate an unequal cost burden placed upon Māori whānau.