For immediate release
Date: November 27 2008
Leave Emergency For Emergencies This Christmas
Health Waikato physicians are asking Waikato residents to keep an eye on their health before the Christmas/New Year holiday period.
In 'silly seasons' gone by, trauma cases and those presenting from alcohol and drug-related incidents lifted the number of people presenting at Health Waikato emergency departments.
However, others needed help because their GP closed down and the only place to go was an emergency department.
Waikato Hospital emergency physician Dr John Bonning said those people could avoid a long wait by planning better.
"Non-emergency presentations are not a problem for us working in emergency; they are a problem for those that present with them as they have to wait * sometimes many hours * before they are seen.
"If you come to ED with a non-urgent and non-emergency condition, you will still get care; you will just have to wait for that care while we deal with more urgent cases. This can take many hours that during the holidays would be better spent relaxing with loved ones."
Dr Bonning said it was important that people with acute medical problems did not hesitate to come to ED, but those with ongoing chronic conditions such as high blood pressure, asthma, diabetes, or heart failure, should do their best to manage them by having a check up at their GP and getting repeat prescriptions filled to cover that period.
In December 2007, 4442 people presented at Waikato Hospital's ED, with January 2008 figures reaching 4559 * well above the 2007/08 monthly average of 4404.
"Waikato Hospital ED is always well prepared for the holiday period, and it is all hands on deck for staff," said Dr Bonning.
"Part of this management plan is our team of clinical nurse specialists who are trained to manage low-acuity or more minor patients. Of you come to ED with a minor problem, these are the people who will most likely treat you."
Dr Bonning and medical officer of health Felicity Dumble are Waikato District Health Board's voices of the 'Emergency for Emergencies' radio campaign asking people to keep themselves well this summer.
"This includes drinking sensibly, never fighting or driving while intoxicated, taking your medication regularly, eating healthily and staying active," said Dr Bonning.