Minor ills makes ED woozy
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.