Mi­nor ills makes ED woozy

Ruapehu Press - - Front Page - FRANCES FER­GU­SON

Tau­marunui Hos­pi­tal is un­der pres­sure from a huge num­ber of peo­ple at­tend­ing the emer­gency de­part­ment in­stead of a GP.

In the past year the emer­gency de­part­ment has treated al­most 5500 peo­ple - the equiv­a­lent of the town’s en­tire pop­u­la­tion.

Emer­gency De­part­ment Charge Nurse Nick Smith said the is­sue was a grow­ing trend around the coun­try but the num­bers at Tau­marunui Hos­pi­tal were a con­cern. ‘‘Peo­ple are seek­ing treat­ment for such things as colds, si­nus, ear or uri­nary tract in­fec­tions, sore throats, strains and sprains, all of which would be bet­ter man­aged through their pri­mary care gen­eral prac­tice doc­tor.’’

The vast ma­jor­ity of vis­its are dur­ing the day, when peo­ple could be seen by a lo­cal GP.

The wait time to see a GP has also been the sub­ject of dis­cus­sions at com­mu­nity health fo­rums re­cently in Tau­marunui, with peo­ple wait­ing 7-10 days to see a doc­tor.

Com­mu­nity en­gage­ment fa­cil­i­ta­tor for the Waikato District Health Board (WDHB) Ber­nadette Doube said peo­ple who can’t see a doc­tor early enough when they are re­ally sick end up at the emer­gency de­part­ment.

How­ever, she said wait­ing 7-10 days to see a GP in Tau­marunui was on the lower end com­pared with other ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties. Doc­tors will pri­ori­tise ur­gent cases.

Smith did not want to dis­cour­age any­one with a gen­uine med­i­cal emer­gency from com­ing in but peo­ple us­ing the emer­gency de­part­ment like a drop in med­i­cal clinic was a bad use of hos­pi­tal re­sources.

He said non-emer­gency cases could end up wait­ing for a long time be­cause se­ri­ous cases were given pri­or­ity.

‘‘They should start by en­sur­ing they are en­rolled at one of [the] lo­cal GP prac­tices, that their whanau is vac­ci­nated and they have yearly flu shots and that if they start feel­ing un­well not to leave things un­til they get re­ally sick be­fore seek­ing treat­ment.

The lo­cal GP is a lot bet­ter placed to man­age pri­mary care needs as they hold a record of all their health his­tory and med­i­ca­tions, Smith said.

For more in­for­ma­tion peo­ple can search Tau­marunui Health Ser­vices at ru­ape­hudc.govt.nz or pick up a ‘‘Who You Should See’’ flyer from the lo­cal health­care provider.

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