25 Jan 2011

People 'not clogging' emergency departments

8:49 pm on 25 January 2011

Doctors in emergency departments say it is wrong to claim that people are choosing to visit hospitals rather than see their GP.

Waitemata and Auckland district health boards say people trying to avoid after-hours costs contributed to a surge in admissions during the Christmas holidays.

John Bonning, from the Australasian College of Emergency Medicine, says about 10% of the patients treated by hospitals could visit their GP.

However, he says they account for only about 2% of an emergency department's workload.

Dr Bonning says blockages and bed shortages further down the line are responsible for overcrowding in the departments.

He suggests more resourcing so nurse specialists can help stream and treat patients with relatively minor problems.

Dr Bonning says doctors would like to talk to DHBs and the Government about improving services at emergency departments.