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New unit means less time in Christchurch hospital

New unit means less time in hospital for some Christchurch patients

A new innovation at Christchurch Hospital has significantly cut waiting times for patients who need acute treatment. The Acute Medical Assessment Unit (AMAU) has been set up because of increased demand for acute medical care.

The AMAU has earned Canterbury District Health Board a finalist’s place in the 2008 New Zealand Health Innovation Awards (HIA). It will compete against 19 other finalists, one of which is also from Canterbury.

The main aim in establishing the AMAU was to reduce the length of time that patients coming to the Emergency Department often waited because of the need to prioritise more urgent patients. Before the AMAU was set up, it was sometimes several hours before a general medical physician could assess these patients. Now they are assessed upon arrival at the Emergency Department, and if appropriate for transfer to the AMAU, are quickly seen by an acute general medical team.

The nursing and medical teams have worked hard to achieve an efficient turn-around time for these patients. Thirty per cent of patients are discharged within 36 hours. Those not discharged in that time are transferred to general medical wards.

AMAU Service Manager, Margaret Krauss, says the AMAU is working well for patients and staff alike.

“The new unit means many patients now spend less time in hospital and while they are there, the right staff are available to care for them.”

The HIA is a joint endeavour of the Ministry of Health and ACC. They were started in 2003 to recognise individuals and organisations that have developed new and innovative approaches to delivering better health services.

Further information about the HIA is available online at

This year’s HIA winners will be announced at the expo and gala dinner held on 4 November at the Wellington Town Hall.


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