12 Sep 2008

Hospital overcrowding 'puts patients at risk'

7:47 pm on 12 September 2008

Wellington Hospital is warning the safety of patients and medical staff will be put at risk unless hospital overcrowding is urgently addressed.

Hospital staff say they are struggling nearly every day with the sheer volume of patients coming to the Emergency Department.

More than 1,000 patients had to be put in the department's corridors last month, up from 700 three months ago. The department treated 4,100 patients last month.

Emergency Department deputy clinical leader Andre Cromhout says the situation presents obvious privacy issues.

He says worldwide evidence shows overcrowding is dangerous for patients and staff.

Dr Cromhout says Wellington Hospital is not alone in its problems with overcrowded wards, and any solutions must come from a Ministry of Health directive.

The Ministry of Health has so far been unavailable for comment.