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Keep your emergency department for emergencies

5 July 2006
Media Release

Keep your emergency department for emergencies only

Auckland City Hospital is running on red alert as the unseasonably cold weather and high incidence of viral respiratory tract infection in the community places added pressure on beds.

Every winter the hospital experiences high occupancy rates and the emergency department is overrun with people who have winter illnesses such as influenza. This winter has seen a siginifcant increase in numbers compared to the last two years.

The hospital is urging the public to keep their emergency department for emergencies only, and to see their GP or Accidental and Medical clinic for any non-urgent illness or injury.

People arriving at emergency department are triaged according to their level of priority compared with other patients. This means that people presenting with non-urgent conditions may have a lengthy wait.

Auckland City Hospital operations manager Ngaire Buchanan says that the hospital is working hard to ensure that elective surgery is not cancelled, however pending availability of beds there may be some rescheduling of electives.

“ED numbers for the three days of July show that patient numbers are significantly up, to about 40 extra patients a day,”she says. “Up to 40 additional beds have been added to the total bed numbers for adult services, and Starship have opened up another 15 beds.”

The hospital has several key messages for the public this winter:

- Emergency departments treat people who require urgent care for serious or life-threatening illness. Save your emergency departments for emergencies only.

- If you feel ill, visit your family doctor early - don’t wait until you are really sick.

- If you feel ill after hours, visit your local Accident and Medical clinic.

- Call Healthline on 0800 611 116 for free health advice.

- In an emergency, dial 111 for an ambulance.

ENDS

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