The Canterbury DHB is the second largest DHB in the country by both geographical area and population size - serving 510,000 people (12% of the New Zealand population) and covering 26,881 square kilometres and six Territorial Local Authorities.
Canterbury's Māori (7.2%) and Pacific (2.0%) populations are younger and have higher fertility rates, but it is our Asian population (6.8%) that is our fastest growing demographic. Projections suggest by 2026 10.8% of Canterbury's total population will be Asian. Ethnicity is a strong indicator of need for health services, and we consider the unique health needs of each of these population groups in our planning for the future.
Our ageing population is still the factor that will have the single greatest impact on Canterbury's future health system and present the biggest challenges. We have the largest total population aged over 75 and will do so for at least the next 15 years. By 2026 one in every five people in Canterbury will be over 65, and the number of people aged over 85 will have doubled.
While our responsibility is primarily for our own population, the Canterbury DHB provides an extensive range of highly specialised and complex services on a regional basis - to people referred from other DHBs where these services are not available.
These specialist services include: eating disorder services; brain injury rehabilitation; child and youth inpatient mental health; forensic services; neonatal services; paediatric neurology; gynaecological oncology; specialist diabetes and respiratory services; cardiothoracic services; haematology/oncology; plastics; gastroenterology; neurosurgery; and ophthalmology services.
There are also some specialist services we provide on a national or semi-national basis: laboratory services; endocrinology; paediatric oncology; and spinal services.
Canterbury provides a significant load of regional and national services, and our ability to maintain service delivery is critical to the functioning and sustainability of the whole New Zealand health system.
In all, Canterbury provides over $100m worth of services to the populations of other DHBs around New Zealand and delivers half of all the surgical services provided in the South Island.
West Coast relationship
Canterbury also provides many services for the population of the West Coast DHB. To formalise this collaborative relationship, we have developed shared service and clinical partnership arrangements. This 'transalpine' approach to service provision has allowed us to better plan the assistance and services we provide to the West Coast DHB and ensure the West Coast population can access the services they need as close to where they live as possible.
The Chief Executive of the Canterbury DHB is also Chief Executive of the West Coast DHB. A number of joint clinical leadership and management positions also support both DHBs at an executive level.