Emergency department struggles with targets

21:05, Nov 27 2012

But Waikato DHB has success in stubbing out smoking, reports Nicola Brennan-Tupara. 

Despite success in getting its patients to stop smoking, Waikato District Health Board is struggling to get people through its emergency departments quickly.

Health targets released yesterday showed the DHB improving on most of its health targets, but it could manage only second to last place (19th) when it came to getting people through emergency departments quickly.

Just 86 per cent of ED arrivals were being seen within six hours - well under the 95 per cent target.

That put the DHB in the same spot it was in a year ago when it achieved 84 per cent, despite gains made at the start of this year.

In May Waikato Hospital was sitting at about 92 per cent, the Acute Medical Unit 97 per cent, Taumarunui and Te Kuiti hospitals 96 per cent, Tokoroa 97 per cent and Thames 95 per cent.


But chief operating officer Jan Adams said an increase in paediatric cases, particularly respiratory tract infections, through the winter months had put extra pressure on hospital beds.

"This meant on some occasions children were nursed for an extended period of time in the emergency department instead of in a ward," she said.

They were making preparations to have more paediatric beds next winter.

But she said numbers at the ED continued to grow beyond what would be expected from simple population growth.

It was a problem expected to be discussed at today's board meeting.

Waikato DHB chief executive Craig Climo said they were making great progress on the Health Ministry's target to have 95 per cent of all patients who smoke offered brief advice and support on how to quit smoking.

The DHB is still 14th, out of 20 DHBs - but hit the 93 per cent mark in the July-September quarter.

That had since improved, with the DHB hitting 95 per cent in October, Mr Climo said.

He said it was the "easiest [target] of them all" to achieve and urged staff to keep up the good work.

Director of nursing and midwifery, Sue Hayward, said helping patients to quit smoking was one of biggest differences they could make to health outcomes for our region.

"And it's as simple as asking the question, ‘do you smoke?' " she said.

In other health target results, Waikato DHB was well ahead of its elective surgery target at 108 per cent and had 100 per cent of patients, who were ready for treatment, receive their radiotherapy and chemotherapy within four weeks of the decision to treat.

And 60 per cent of Waikato's eligible population had their cardiovascular risk assessed in the past five years. The current stage is to achieve 75 per cent by July 2013.