Demand for beds leads to cancelled surgeries

Waikato Hospital has had to cancel 21 planned surgeries as it tries to cope with higher than usual demand for beds.

As of yesterday morning, the hospital's occupancy was at 104 per cent, with 21 surgeries so far being cancelled, Kevin Harris, the assistant group manager of hospital operations, said.

The surgeries were mainly for orthopedic or general surgery and would be re-booked in the new year.

Mr Harris said it was hard to know if any more surgeries would have to be cancelled.

He said people turning up to the hospital's Emergency Department requiring acute care was causing higher than usual demand.

Mr Harris urged people not to go to the ED for treatment unless it was a "real emergency".

"We ask that people check first with their GP or the Healthline (0800 611 116) before coming to the Emergency Department at the hospital.

"They will give advice and assessment, and you avoid a long wait at the hospital while we deal with more urgent cases," Mr Harris said.

The ED was there for serious accidents or urgent medical attention only, like chest pains and babies with high temperatures.

Mr Harris said the hospital tried hard not to cancel patients who had surgery planned, as they were aware of how disruptive it could be for patients and their families "especially at this time of the year".

"However some cancellations were necessary," he said.

John Macaskill-Smith, chief executive of Midlands Health Network Ltd, also urged people to prepare for the holiday break to avoid unnecessary visits to the ED.

"Talk to your general practice team to make sure you have enough medication and supplies for the holiday period, and make sure you are up to date with tests and any other health needs," he said.

"Find out your general practice's holiday operating hours and where your closest after-hours centre is. Talk to your friends and family to make sure they are also prepared."

Waikato Times