What’s on your plate this Christmas? A fruit Christmas tree, ‘Rudolph’ sandwiches filled with salad and Santa eggs were on the menu for Room 18 at the class Christmas party at Apanui School recently. The treats were prepared by Sarah Wells who’s recently been appointed to the new position of Community Dietitian at the Eastern Bay Primary Healthcare Alliance (EBPHA) focused on youth. In July this year the Ministry of Health introduced a new health target ‘Raising Healthy Kids’ part of a raft of initiatives to tackle New Zealand’s rising rates of childhood obesity. Statistics show 11% or one in nine children aged 2-14 are obese in New Zealand. In the Bay of Plenty the rate is 9%. Sarah who’s recently moved to the Eastern Bay from Australia is passionate about helping kiwi kids grow into happy, healthy young adults with positive eating habits that they can maintain for life. “We know that eating habits good or bad are developed in our younger years and have an impact on our health into adulthood. This time of year, kids are prone to eating lots of Christmas sweet treats. They can still have treats but they don’t have to be loaded with sugar.” Before enjoying their Christmas feast, Sarah spoke to Room 18 about their favourite Christmas treats and healthy treats for their bodies. Teacher Sarah Akroyd was impressed with the healthy treats and planned to put photos on the class social media page to encourage parents to make the treats at home. Aiden Cox and Te Hawiki Rangihika-Hawea are eager to try the healthy Christmas treats prepared by Dietitian Sarah Wells (middle). ‘Phone Your GP First’ this holiday season Dr Bryce Kihirini, from Te Puke’s Nga Kakano Foundation, says people are getting peace of mind from a new after-hours telephone nurse triage service. ‘Phone Your GP First’ is the message this Christmas and New Year if you have a nonurgent medical issue. A free phone triage system in the Eastern Bay means that your call will be answered by a registered nurse 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year. Accessing the service is easy, simply ring your normal GP Practice number any time of day. If the call is after-hours it will be automatically re-directed to a qualiﬁed nurse who will discuss your treatment options and point you in the right direction for the care you need. Dr Bryce Kihirini a GP for Nga Kakano Foundation in Te Puke, says the service represented a similar opportunity for patients across the Bay of Plenty. “The GPs at our practice all support it,” says Dr Kihirini, adding that patients could save themselves time and money by simply calling their GP’s number any time of the day or night. “To be able to call a registered health professional and run the symptoms past them and being told either, you do need to go to hospital, or no you can sort that out with your GP in the morning, or whatever the advice may be, is reassuring. It can save time and money but probably the peace of mind is the biggest thing.” Whakatāne Hospital Medical Lead Dr Matt Valentine says if a medical issue wasn’t an obvious emergency people should always phone their GP ﬁrst. During last year’s holiday season Whakatāne Hospital’s Emergency Department saw over 1000 patients in 12 days (Christmas Day to 5 January). Numbers topped 100 on ﬁve of the 12 days with the busiest day seeing 114 patients attend. Fruit in Schools reaches record number of kids Health Minister Jonathan Coleman says this year’s expansion of the successful Fruit in Schools initiative to a record 547 schools including most in the Eastern Bay has had a positive impact. “Children need to eat well in order to optimise their learning and that’s why Fruit in Schools is so beneﬁcial to students,” says Dr Coleman. “Staﬀ at the school also take part to help encourage students to try new things and inﬂuence their healthy eating decisions. “Fruit in Schools complements the Childhood Obesity Plan. New Zealand is one of the ﬁrst OECD countries to have a target and a comprehensive plan to tackle childhood obesity.” Following the Ministry of Education’s decile funding changes, all existing schools have remained in the Fruit in Schools pro-gramme, with an additional 77 others eligible to participate. As a result, a total of 547 schools including more than twenty in the Eastern Bay have beneﬁtted in 2016, covering around 103,000 students and around 12,000 staﬀ. Schools receive high quality seasonal fruit and vegetables, and they sample up to 24 diﬀerent types of fruit or vegetable during the year. By the time schools break up for the summer break, more than 20 million servings will have been dished up. The Government invests $7.8 million into the Fruit in Schools programme each year. This is being supported by the extra $568 million going into Health for 2016/17 – taking the total Health spend to a record $16.1 billion. Dr Valentine says a high number of people attending ED were coming to the wrong place for treatment, adding that those who did attend with minor ailments could expect a long wait. “People attending the ED with minor ailments will likely be confronted with signiﬁcant waits to be seen, with those who are sickest being seen ﬁrst. However, whilst the ED’s triage process ensures the sickest are seen ﬁrst, those left in the queue are still monitored.” People are being advised to save their GP’s number to their mobile phone so that they have it handy when needed. If the issue is a medical emergency the triage service will be able to connect patients with an ambulance. Those people visiting the Eastern Bay of Plenty who are not registered with a local GP can access the same service by calling 07 306 2360.