Chronic disease management is a key aspect of general practice and Riccarton Clinic's GPs and nurse educators work very closely with patients to assist them in managing their conditions. Diabetes and Asthma are two of the most serious and debilitating chronic diseases and Riccarton Clinic has set up special clinics to work with patients suffering from these.
Diabetes is diagnosed when a person has too much glucose (sugar) in the blood. This happens because the pancreas cannot make enough insulin. Insulin is produced in the pancreas and has two jobs in the body - the first is to transport glucose from the blood supply into fat and muscle cells, where it can be used for energy. The second is to switch off the liver once the level of glucose in the blood is high enough. Diabetes is the result of the body not creating enough insulin to keep blood glucose levels in the normal range. It cannot presently be cured, but it can be controlled, and you can lead a full and active life.
It is important for all people with diabetes to get an annual check up with your doctor or specialist (more frequent check ups may be recommended).
Asthma is a chronic condition of the bronchioles, or small airways, inside the lungs. Airways are passages through which air flows, providing oxygen an essential ingredient in maintaining life in the body. Since we need oxygen to live, if there is a lack of it, it is very distressing and even dangerous.
While there’s no cure for asthma, it can be managed successfully by:
- Understanding as much as possible about asthma
- Working in partnership with your practice nurse and doctor to manage asthma
- Knowing about prescribed asthma medicine - how to take it correctly and how it works
- Taking your preventer asthma medication every day
- Using a self management plan when needed
- Finding out what your asthma triggers are and then avoiding them
- Recognising when your asthma is getting worse and what to do
- Monitoring your asthma with a peak flow meter and seeking regular reviews by a nurse/doctor
Access to specialist health services in the New Zealand public health system is controlled by a process of referral by health practitioners authorised to do so. Usually that is your General Practitioner at Riccarton Clinic. We maintain excellent links with specialists in public and private practices in Christchurch.
The public health system referral process should get you the consultations you need to diagnose and treat your condition, whatever specialist you need to see. The specialist may refer you on to another specialist if your condition is outside of their scope or if further testing/investigation is required. The referral will normally be to the specialist clinic at a public hospital and the consultation, and any subsequent laboratory tests, X-rays or scans ordered by the specialist will be free of charge to you. The specialist may refer you back to your doctor with information for them on how to manage your condition.
The only other source of specialist advice is to pay for private consultations from specialists in private practice. You may have private medical insurance and your insurer will advise you on which specialists they have a relationship with.
The hospital should inform you and your GP within ten days about whether you will see a specialist. If you do need to see a specialist, DHBs should provide your appointment within four months of the day the hospital received your referral. Your GP (or primary care provider) will continue caring for you while you wait for your specialist appointment.
The specialist will assess your condition and recommend the best option of care for you. There are a number of possible outcomes depending on how urgent your condition is and what resources the hospital has available. The specialist may even decide that a service is not available to you, even though you would benefit from it. If this happens, you and your GP (or primary care provider) will be informed, and they will discuss with you your best options of care.