11 Apr 2020

Patient numbers at emergency departments in Auckland, Northland fall

12:13 pm on 11 April 2020

Patient volumes at some emergency departments in Auckland and Northland have fallen by up to 50 percent in recent weeks, leaving district health boards worried people are delaying seeking treatment.

Health professionals have been warning the health system is desperately stretched.

Photo: 123rf

Northern Region DHBs are reminding people that hospital emergency departments are open to provide care during the Covid-19 lockdown.

Waitematā DHB chief executive Dale Bramley said they were concerned people weren't coming in when they needed to, which could mean they end up in an even worse condition by the time they sought help.

"We are concerned people may not be coming in for the care when they need it," he said.

"Our message is that it is okay to come to our emergency departments if you have a real health emergency."

For relatively minor ailments, people should still contact their usual doctor.

  • If you have symptoms of the coronavirus, call the NZ Covid-19 Healthline on 0800 358 5453 (+64 9 358 5453 for international SIMs) or call your GP - don't show up at a medical centre

Over the long Easter weekend, people should contact their local urgent care clinic or call Healthline for advice.

"For emergencies, people shouldn't hesitate to call 111 or present at any of our emergency departments. Our teams are there to provide care and that doesn't change because we are in the lockdown period," Bramley said.

"This message is particularly important for our older people, who often don't like to make a fuss. The sooner we are able to intervene, the better your health outcome will usually be."

People going to emergency departments are being triaged on arrival, to keep people who are under suspicion for Covid-19 away from other patients.

Personal protective equipment is also being used.

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