** High Priority **
Media Release (mug shot of Hayley McConnell attached)
Date: 1 September 2008
SITUATION AT WAIKATO HOSPITAL CRITICAL
Occupancy at Waikato Hospital is critical today at 109 per cent by 2pm with no respite in sight.
Sixteen patients are waiting for inpatient beds with only two projected to be available in the next six hours.
In addition, 64 patients are waiting in the emergency department continuing an upward trend which saw the record for monthly attendances in the department broken by almost 200 last month.
Waikato Hospital group manager Hayley McConnell said weekend acute presentations and a full hospital from last week are the main contributors.
"Our strategies to reduce occupancy such as cancellation of elective medical/surgery procedures and additional beds opened, is not enough to manage the 40 beds required overnight," she said.
"It reduces our ability to receive inter-hospital transfers, referrals and other direct admissions."
In a memo to staff, Ms McConnell said clinical teams needed to accelerate transfers back to patients' home hospitals to allow the hospital to manage acute admissions.
The emergency department last month saw 4779 patients up from 4455 in August 2007 and nearly 200 more than the previous month's record in March this year of 4585 patients.
"We've opened more beds but unrelenting acute numbers and an overall increase in length of stay are contributing factors," she said.
Waikato Hospital emergency department monthly patient figures:
2007 monthly totals
2008 monthly totals