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ACEM statement on 2018 New Zealand Budget

The peak body for emergency medicine in New Zealand and Australia has welcomed the government’s commitment to health in today’s Budget, and acknowledges the sentiment that not everything can be addressed in one announcement.

Australasian College for Emergency Medicine (ACEM) President Dr Simon Judkins said the Labour Coalition Government must ensure the focus remains on New Zealanders having ongoing access to an accessible, high quality, safe health system.

“Committing more money to services and new infrastructure is necessary, and we welcome the much needed injection.”

Dr Judkins said there are systemic issues faced by emergency doctors and nurses on a daily basis, such as access block, patient flow and ambulance ramping. The College has raised these issues with the Labour Coalition Government since its election.

“‘We’re committed to working in partnership with the Government to ensure emergency physicians’ expertise influences and shapes the planning, development and implementation of any long-term system wide reforms,” Dr Judkins said.

ACEM New Zealand Faculty Board Member Dr André Cromhout said: “We need to robustly evaluate the measures we are putting in place. Will they meet the current gaps that exist in the system today, let alone future gaps due to the demand being placed on hospitals?

Mental health care

ACEM has been outspoken that emergency departments are seeing an increasing number of patients with acute mental and behavioural conditions across all age groups.

Earlier this year, ACEM identified the unacceptable wait times of patients with acute mental and behavioural conditions in emergency departments, and called for a new approach to mental health care in emergency departments.

“We are committed to addressing shortcomings in the mental health system through the Government Inquiry into Mental Health and Addiction and develop new policies and processes to support shorter stays in the emergency department,” Dr Cromhout said.

Investment for District Health Boards (DHBs)

ACEM welcomes any additional funding to be provided to DHBs to meet increased demand for health services. We note the government’s analysis of key demand drivers.

Dr Cromhout said: “We urge the Government to ensure that its planning and funding of DHBs, to meet increased demand, is underpinned by evidence. Presentation rates to emergency departments are increasing, and emergency physicians, who are at the front door of the health system, are best placed to provide this data.”

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