A Blenheim GP practice plans to conduct an audit of its patients who attend Wairau Hospital's emergency department to see why they didn't make a doctor's appointment.
The three-month audit will investigate whether a GP appointment was available, how many patients used ED for treatment and whether the ED path was appropriate.
Marlborough Primary Health Organisation said more patients continued to attend the emergency department during the day for treatment that could have been prescribed by their GP.
Based on population size, attendance to Wairau's accident and emergency outstripped attendances at Nelson Hospital's ED.
Cost, quicker treatment at ED and the hospital's accessibility all contributed to the trend.
Nelson Marlborough District Health Board said in its board minutes there remained "excessive use of ED in Wairau" based on population statistics.
Between November last year and May, Nelson had average daily presentations of 70.5 patients per day, while Wairau had average daily presentations of 57.4 patients per day.
The board was concerned Wairau only served one third of the total population but saw 45 per cent of ED cases.
The Acute Demand Alliance Team, chaired by Wairau ED lead Dr Andrew Morgan, has been tasked to deal with the problem.
Marlborough PHO chief executive Beth Tester told the organisation's monthly meeting the increase in admissions started after the Wairau Accident and Medical Centre (WAM) closed in 2009.
Based at the hospital it was replaced by an after hours clinic, which still operates.
"If the community is getting used to turning up at ED we are going to have to run an education programme for the community and staff. The community of Marlborough adapt to change quite slowly."
The PHO has been investigating how many slots within general practices are available each day.
Redwoodtown GP Jim Vause said the closer a patient lived to the hospital the more likely they were to attend ED for a medical problem that could have been treated by their GP.
- The Marlborough Express
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