Patients with minor ailments frustrate hospital

Hawke's Bay Hospital has been "swamped" with record numbers of people turning up to its emergency department with ailments such as cuts and coughs that should be seen by a GP.

Of the 152 people who arrived at the hospital on Boxing Day, many had minor illnesses and injuries, which stretched out wait times, chief operating officer Warrick Frater said.

"It's extremely frustrating for emergency department staff when people turn up for treatment for minor ailments and illnesses."

Mr Frater advised people to visit their GP or a medical centre unless it was an emergency.

Tauranga Hospital was experiencing its usual busy summer holiday period, though had not seen significantly higher numbers from previous years.

There was a slight increase in the number of people coming in with illnesses, but they had not experienced the same deluge as Hawke's Bay Hospital, nurse manager Marama Tauranga said.

Hospitals in the lower North Island were experiencing much quieter holiday periods than those in popular holiday destinations.

Palmerston North Hospital was quiet on Christmas Day, though the emergency department saw a number of elderly people brought in on Boxing Day, perhaps due to the hot, muggy weather from the remnants of Cyclone Evan crossing the country, a spokesperson said.

Wellington Hospital's emergency department had seen steady numbers, but nothing out of the ordinary, spokesman Lindsay Davis said.

■ Free health advice and information about nearby medical centres is available 24 hours a day by calling Healthline on 0800 611 116.

The Dominion Post