Patients urged to see GP

16:00, Mar 30 2014

Emergency departments in Taranaki are being flooded with cases of people with coughs, colds and ailments that are not urgent.

In fact, more than half of the patients at the emergency departments could be seen by their GP, Taranaki District Health Board clinical service manager Gillian Campbell said.

She said the region's emergency departments were extremely busy with non-urgent patients, which was concerning as it was only the beginning of winter.

"In the last couple of weeks we have been experiencing high numbers of patients, averaging over 90 per day at Taranaki Base Hospital. Over half of these presentations were considered non-urgent." she said.

In Hawera, almost 70 per cent of emergency department patients fell into the non-urgent category.

The departments needed to have the resources available to deal with people who required serious and immediate medical treatment, Campbell said.

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Taranaki District Health Board and Midlands Health Network were now appealing to the public to make an appointment to see their GP when they felt sick.

"If you are feeling unwell but it is not an emergency, then call for a doctor's appointment. This will help free up the hospital emergency department to deal with patients who need more urgent medical help," Campbell said.

If a GP's surgery was not open, there were other options before going to the emergency department. Local accident and medical centres were often open late hours or people could make use of Healthline, a free 24-hour service that can be accessed by phoning 0800 611 116.

"The last option is the emergency department, which should only be used for emergencies."

Taranaki Daily News