By: Meghan Lawrence

Many emergency departments across the country are seeing record numbers of patients and are asking the public to avoid going to ED unless in genuine need of emergency healthcare.

North Shore Hospital in Auckland.

Waitemata District Health Board reported that Waitakere and North Shore hospitals have seen record demand for care over recent days as the winter season takes full effect.

A total of 2,600 people presented at EDs last week compared with 2,450 at the same time last year, adding 150 patients to what was already a very busy period.

Chief Medical Officer Dr Andrew Brant said heavy demand for inpatient hospital care makes it all the more important that hospital resources are prioritised toward those in greatest need.

“Please help us to care for those who need it most by only coming to our EDs if you have an emergency,” Brant said.

“The first point of care for non-urgent care is your family doctor or local pharmacy. Getting in quickly to be seen by your family doctor or discussing with your local pharmacist can prevent illnesses from escalating.

“If it is after-hours or you cannot get in to see your family doctor, the next option should be the nearest accident and medical clinic.

“The emergency department is only for those who are seriously unwell and in need of emergency care. Following this guide will relieve pressure on our hospitals to care for those in need of specialist care.”

Despite the heavy winter workload, Brant said people who need hospital care will still receive it.

He also encouraged those who have not yet had their annual influenza immunisation to take action.

“The flu season has arrived later than expected this year but we are now seeing flu-related presentations. It is not too late to vaccinate and we strongly encourage people to do so via their family doctor,” he said.

Two weeks ago Auckland City Hospital’s emergency department reported having more than 1,400 patients in one week alone – which was up several hundred compared to the same time in 2016.

Counties Manukau Health was also currently experiencing very high demand for ED services, with the number of patients attending Middlemore Hospital during the second week of August reaching 2,477. This compares with 2,338 at the same time last year.

You can help look after yourself and your whānau by:

• ensuring you and your whānau have this season’s flu vaccination
• visiting your pharmacy for minor health conditions and queries
• seeing your GP for all non-urgent health concerns
• visiting your local accident and medical clinic for minor illnesses and injuries.

If you’re unsure where you should go, call Healthline for FREE advice from a nurse on 0800 611 116 or visit Healthpoint.

If it’s a serious or life-threatening emergency, don’t hesitate to go to the emergency department or call 111.

Source: NZ Herald

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