Plea to leave dept for emergencies

Wait times increase with patient numbers

ALANA DIXON
Last updated 05:00 25/07/2012
Southland Hospital emergency department consultant Dr Neil Waldman.
ROBYN EDIE/Fairfax NZ

FEVER PITCH: Southland Hospital emergency department consultant Dr Neil Waldman.

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Emergency staff at Southland Hospital have been working extra shifts as more people use the emergency department as a first option for treatment.

Emergency department consultant Dr Neil Waldman reminded people the department should be kept for emergencies.

Staff had worked extra shifts and waiting times increased as the number of people presenting to the department for treatment had continued to grow, Dr Waldman said.

The department had been extra busy for the past month, seeing on average about 100 people a day compared to between 50 and 70 people typically, he said.

"We see the sickest patients first so the sickest patients always get seen.

"It's just the people that could be seeing their GP really should be seeing their GP," he said.

He believed between 25 and 30 per cent of people who arrived at the emergency department could have been seen by an after-hours doctor or their own doctor.

Some people faced a wait of up to four hours in the emergency department because it was so busy, he said.

On some shifts, there was a junior and senior doctor working as well as a consultant, while on others there was just one senior doctor, as well as nurses, he said.

"People are working doubles and they're working extra shifts . . . we're just not really staffed for [those kinds] of numbers," he said.

alana.dixon@stl.co.nz

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