Media release 26 June 2017 | Middlemore Hospital experiencing long wait times for minor illness and injuries due to winter spike

Middlemore Hospital is experiencing a significant spike in the number of people coming to its Emergency Department as it sees the impact of winter hitting early.

“This week we are seeing record numbers of patients coming into our Emergency Department, many with underlying medical conditions including respiratory related illnesses which we often see in winter” said Dr Vanessa Thornton, acting Chief Medical Officer for Counties Manukau Health.

In the last week, the Emergency Department at Middlemore Hospital has frequently seen well over 350 patients per day and on Sunday we experienced record levels of patients with 366 patients in a 24 hour period. Total hospital occupancy is 105% with particular pressure on medical wards. Middlemore Hospital has one of the busiest emergency departments in Australasia.

“We are mainly seeing growth in the number of patients with medical issues; however the number of children coming into our emergency department is also very high. Alcohol related injuries are also a growing trend, particularly as Auckland has been host to a number of high profile events,” added Dr Thornton.

The DHB has taken steps to anticipate this increase in demand including providing extra staff and additional beds in wards; however these steps could not anticipate the sudden spike in demand. Contingency arrangements are in place to manage the demand for care across the hospital’s services.

“This is the highest and fastest rate of increase in demand for our services we have ever experienced,” added Dr Thornton.

“Our target is to see people within 6 hours of arrival, and we prioritise which patients are seen first based on the seriousness of their conditions. However, at the moment people are experiencing long wait times if their illness or injury is not serious.”

People are being encouraged to see their family doctor in the first instance when they’re sick. Accident and Medical Clinics are open across Auckland for non-life threatening urgent care needs.
If people are unsure on where to go, they are encouraged to ring Healthline for free on 0800 611 116 to talk to a registered nurse for advice. Healthline also have translators available if they are needed.

“We are asking everyone to help keep our emergency department free for people with life threatening illnesses. Anyone who is experiencing chest pain, head injuries, severe blood loss, or major accident should still come into the hospital Emergency Department.

For further information please contact the Counties Manukau Health media line on 09 250 9857

Less than a minute to read Nicholas Harvey

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