Palmerston North Hospital has been experiencing increasing demand for its services recently, with close to 300 people
presenting to the Emergency Department (ED) over Saturday and Sunday (June 29 and 30).
The month of June 2019 saw a total of 4002 presentations to ED in comparison to 3854 presentations in June 2018. The
flow-on effect of these presentations resulted in 1110 admissions to wards through ED in June, compared to 970 at the
same time last year.
Many of the patients who presented over the weekend were suffering from respiratory conditions, often exacerbated by the
colder weather, as well as cardiac-related illnesses. The high numbers of people who subsequently required admission to
a ward resulted in many areas of the hospital operating at capacity or beyond.
Operations Executive, Acute and Elective Specialist Services, Lyn Horgan said DHB management always worked closely with
clinical teams to ensure appropriate planning was in place to deal with the anticipated higher demands on services over
the winter months.
“A careful planning process is undertaken to ensure we can meet the needs of the MidCentral DHB community over this
time. However, the recent influx was unforeseen and unfortunately resulted in longer than usual waiting times for
patients and additional pressure on staff.”
“Through the hard work and commitment of our staff, we were able to provide patients with the care they required, and
their exemplery efforts are very much appreciated.”
“We would also extend our gratitude to those who presented to hospital during this time for their patience and
understanding in what were trying circumstances.”
Ms Horgan said while the Hospital is always open for those in need, there were alternative pathways for patients who did
not require the most urgent care.
A number of GP practices in the MidCentral DHB area are now offering the Primary Options for Acute Care (POAC)
programme, which allows clinically appropriate patients presenting to ED to be redirected to general practice teams for
a range of services.
Ms Horgan said POAC offered those patients the opportunity to receive timely acute care at no cost.
“The programme was trialed earlier in the year, and has proven benficial to the public, while also enabling hospital
staff to concentrate on the highest priority patients.”
“We appreciate that our healthcare colleagues in the community are also experiencing high demand on their services and
we will continue to work with them to ensure people are being cared for in the right place at the right time.”
Other options for community-based care included calling Healthline on 0800 611 116, visiting your general practice team
or consulting with your local pharmacist.