Keep The Emergency Department For Emergencies Only Campaign

Press Release – Waitemata District Health Board

Waitemata DHB has launched a campaign urging people to keep the emergency department for emergencies only.Waitemata DHB Launches Campaign To Keep The Emergency Department For Emergencies Only
Waitemata DHB has launched a campaign urging people to keep the emergency department for emergencies only.

The campaign – which includes a leaflet mail out to some 80,000 households in west Auckland to coincide with the start of Waitakere Hospital’s 24-7 emergency care service for adults on June 7 – was prompted by the growing number of presentations to both its North Shore and Waitakere hospital emergency departments.

Waitemata DHB chief operating officer Alan Wilson says the campaign was prompted by a need to carefully manage the number of people presenting to the emergency department with non-emergency conditions.

“Year on year, people are increasingly using the emergency department at our hospitals for minor or non-urgent health problems. This takes staff and resources away from patients needing genuine emergency treatment, and does nothing to foster the important relationship each patient should have with their GP.”

Last year, Waitakere Hospital treated 33,954 people at its emergency department – up 33 per cent on the 25,474 cases seen in 2009. North Shore Hospital’s emergency department, meanwhile, saw 56,175 people – up 7 per cent on the previous year.

But despite increased demand, Waitemata DHB’s emergency departments continue to significantly improve on the time taken for people to be seen. In mid-May, 95 per cent of patients were being admitted, discharged or transferred from the emergency departments within six hours, hitting the national target set by the Ministry of Health. It also marks all time high for the performance of the health board’s emergency departments – and a significant improvement on the 61 per cent delivered in June 2009.

“While we have put more resources into the emergency departments, the level of presentations is unsustainable in the long term as there are limited resources – both in terms of funding, and skilled medical and nursing staff – that we can continue to recruit or divert into the emergency departments to keep up with demand,” says Mr Wilson.

He says in some instances, people turn up at the emergency departments with minor ailments – simply because they are unsure of where else to go.

“The campaign hopes to address this issue by making people more aware of where they should go for medical care, ensuring that we can continue to treat real emergency cases in a timely manner.

“People should be assured, however, that their local public hospital is here for them. If you have a need, you won’t be turned away,” says Mr Wilson.


Note to editors:

The campaign aims to advise people of the appropriate place to go for

1. For non-urgent, less serious health concerns

A GP will be able to deal with most medical problems. People can also
get medical advice from a health professional by ringing the free
Healthline service on 0800 611 116

2. For non-urgent, less serious health concerns when your doctor is

If their GP is closed, they should visit the closest Accident and
Medical Centre.

3. If you have a serious injury or health concern

Go to a hospital emergency department if there is a serious injury or
health concern, including treatment that may require a hospital stay.
Ring 111 for an ambulance for life threatening conditions and serious
illnesses or injuries.

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