An "unprecedented" number of people turned up to Hutt Hospital's emergency department (ED) over winter.
The department was struggling to meet the Government target of 95 per cent of people "admitted, discharged or transferred" within six hours, Hutt Valley District Health Board members heard at their October meeting.
For the April-June quarter, Hutt's ED managed 91 per cent, putting it 14th among New Zealand's 20 district health boards.
Chief executive Graham Dyer said for the first time in its history, the department handled more than 1000 cases in one week during winter.
In another record, one day's caseload reached 168. The average number of patients each day is around 115.
While that day's high was immediately after publicity about a young woman who died from meningococcal disease, the number of people being admitted to hospital from the ED was "staying reasonably consistent".
"So it's not as if people coming to the emergency department are less sick," he said.
Nevertheless, the HVDHB is to embark on a campaign reminding people they can ring their GP if they're unsure a patient's condition warrants bringing them to the ED. If it's after hours, the call will automatically be switched through to a nurse triage service, which can offer advice on whether to go to the ED or not.
Crown monitor Debbie Chin said Hutt Hospital is not alone in terms of pressure on its ED, but does have one of the highest ASH (avoidable Ambulatory Sensitive Hospitalisation) rates in New Zealand.
Work on conditions that can be reduced in severity if treated early is ongoing.
Board members have also called for an early report on actions being undertaken to get on top of heart risk assessments for the elderly and those with particular medical conditions. HVDHB ranks second to last in this Government target at 34 per cent, when the average for all 20 DHBs is 49 per cent and the target is 90 per cent.
- Hutt News
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