Free medical treatment extended

5:48 am on 7 March 2011

Free urgent medical treatment for people suffering from quake-related illness has been extended until Sunday 13 March.

South Island district health boards are funding the programme, and in the North Island three general practice networks are matching the offer.

Emergency attendances at Christchurch Hospital have averaged about 150 a day since last Thursday, which is about 80 people fewer a day than usual.

Canterbury patients transferred to hospitals in other parts of the country are to remain there in the interim.

Limited elective surgery is going to resume on Monday, but patients will be contacted regarding arrangements.

A 24-hour transit lounge has been set up at the Princess Margaret Hospital on Cashmere Road, which will provide triage for older vulnerable people who have high health or disability needs.

The families of all older people transferred out of the region have been contacted.

Alternative arrangements are being made for children with disabilities who require respite care.

Of the GP teams in Christchurch, 94% are open, and 93% of pharmacies are open.

There is no indication of any large outbreak of gastroenteritis. The 56 cases in the past week are line with what's normal.

Authorities caution, however, that the number of cases may be under reported and people with symptoms are urged to seek medical advice.

Meanwhile, the Australian Medical Assistance Team that has been in Christchurch was heading home on Sunday, after seeing more than 600 patients at its temporary field hospital at Cowles Stadium.