Patients flooding services
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.