Pa­tients flood­ing ser­vices

Manawatu Standard - - Front Page - Janine Rankin [email protected]

Palmerston North’s com­mu­ni­ty­based ac­ci­dent and med­i­cal ser­vices are see­ing 250 pa­tients a day, but still, the flood of peo­ple into the hos­pi­tal’s emer­gency de­part­ment con­tin­ues.

The de­part­ment is see­ing up to 130 peo­ple a day, with one in five hav­ing to wait more than six hours to be treated or ad­mit­ted, and the hos­pi­tal is more than full.

A to­tal of 3458 peo­ple came through the front doors last month, and 416 gave up wait­ing to be seen and went away again.

Mid­cen­tral Health acute and elec­tive spe­cial­ist ser­vices op­er­a­tions ex­ec­u­tive Lyn Hor­gan said the main cause of de­lays was wait­ing for hos­pi­tal beds to be ready for new pa­tients.

There was a sys­tem of ‘‘hold­ing orders’’ that en­abled emer­gency de­part­ment staff to di­rect pa­tients straight to the ap­pro­pri­ate ward with­out wait­ing for a con­sul­tant to ap­prove it, but still, there were de­lays wait­ing for one of the hos­pi­tal’s 173 beds to come free. This week, there were more than 180 in-pa­tients in the hos­pi­tal at any time.

Some elec­tive pro­ce­dures had to be post­poned to make way for acute cases com­ing through for treatment, she said.

Chief ex­ec­u­tive of the re­branded pri­mary health or­gan­i­sa­tion Think Hauora, Chiq­uita Hansen, said gen­eral prac­tices were work­ing hard to help peo­ple man­age their health and avoid trips to the hos­pi­tal. ‘‘But this year, there is un­prece­dented de­mand right across Aotearoa.’’

She said ev­ery day ur­gent care ser­vices at City Doc­tors were deal­ing with 140 pa­tients and The Palms saw an­other 110.

The pa­tients in­cluded those re­ferred from other gen­eral prac­tices or from the emer­gency de­part­ment it­self un­der the free, pri­mary op­tions in acute care sys­tem de­signed to help relieve pressure on the de­part­ment.

Think Hauora also sup­ported gen­eral prac­tices with pro­grammes de­signed to help peo­ple with long-term con­di­tions that made them likely can­di­dates for hos­pi­tal ad­mis­sions.

Hansen said the na­ture of gen­eral practice was changing as GP num­bers in the district slumped to 105 and the num­ber of nurse prac­ti­tion­ers rose to 28.

Over­all, the health board and pri­mary health groups were car­ing for about 182,000 peo­ple, an in­crease of more than 20,000 in a decade.

Chiq­uita Hansen

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