Bed-block at Hawke’s Bay Hos­pi­tal

Doc­tors strug­gle with over­crowd­ing; 24 pa­tients kept overnight in ED

CHB Mail - - NEWS - Tom Kitchin of RNZ

Doc­tors in Hawke’s Bay are at break­ing point over an over­crowded hos­pi­tal, with some say­ing it’s the busi­est they’ve ever seen. The re­gion’s hos­pi­tal in Hast­ings is strug­gling to cope with toomany pa­tients. High lev­els of trauma, ac­ci­dents and poor hous­ing are lead­ing to bed-block.

As­so­ci­a­tion of Salaried Med­i­cal Spe­cial­ists ex­ec­u­tive direc­tor Sarah Dal­ton said the past few weeks at Hawke’s Bay Hos­pi­tal have been tough.

“It’s sort of the new nor­mal, to be at or above 100 per cent ca­pac­ity, par­tic­u­larly ED, but the last cou­ple of weeks have been ex­cep­tion­ally bad and one of our mem­bers com­mented that last Mon­day was the worst he’s ever seen it in all his ca­reer at Hawke’s Bay Hos­pi­tal.”

She said on that day 24 ex­tra pa­tients were kept overnight in the emer­gency depart­ment be­cause there­was nowhere else to put them.

“One of the is­sues is there are in­ad­e­quate com­mu­nity beds, so par­tic­u­larly for older or frail pa­tients, peo­ple who are need­ing more care than they can have in their own homes, there’s a lack of com­mu­nity

beds to re­lease peo­ple into so you’ve ef­fec­tively got bed block at both ends.”

The dis­trict health board wouldn’t speak to RNZ, say­ing staff were too busy.

But its chief op­er­at­ing of­fi­cer Chris Ash said in a state­ment there wasa prob­lem finding non-hos­pi­tal care for older pa­tients whoare not acutely un­well but are too sick to be home.

“With high hos­pi­tal oc­cu­pancy

lev­els it means there is less flow through­out the hos­pi­tal, which im­pacts on the emer­gency depart­ment as they then have trou­ble mov­ing pa­tients to award for fur­ther on­go­ing care,” he said.

The length of time they spend in award makes if dif­fi­cult to find space for new pa­tients. The overall bed oc­cu­pancy at Hawke’s Bay Hos­pi­tal is nearly 3 per cent higher than at the same last year. The most re­cent

board pa­per said that on nu­mer­ous days in the past month, the num­ber of pa­tients had been over ca­pac­ity.

Age Con­cern Napier man­ager Morag Hill helps fam­i­lies look­ing for some­where for a rel­a­tive to go af­ter hos­pi­tal. She said of­ten they don’t know where to start and find it over­whelm­ing.

“Weare aware that this is an ex­treme prob­lem with older peo­ple be­ing as­sessed within the hos­pi­tal

sys­tem. They are be­ing kept in the hos­pi­tal for longer than nec­es­sary.”

Hawke’s Bay DHB said it hoped to comeup with a plan in the next two months so peo­ple can be moved out of hos­pi­tal faster and into other com­mu­nity fa­cil­i­ties. Th­ese prob­lems are also be­yond Hawke’s Bay. Just last month, Waikato Hos­pi­tal warned peo­ple to stay­away from ED un­less they needed ur­gent emer­gency care.


The last few weeks at Hawke’s Bay Hos­pi­tal have been tough, As­so­ci­a­tion of Salaried Med­i­cal Spe­cial­ists ex­ec­u­tive direc­tor Sarah Dal­ton says.

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