Extra nursing staff, a new ward soon to open and extra emergency department seats are amongst initiatives announced by Waikato District Health Board to help cope with ED pressure.
The Waikato Times reported on Friday that ambulances were being turned away from city medical clinics because of long waiting times, so were putting further pressure on Waikato Hospital’s strained emergency department.
In December last year that DHB said it was to boost its ED doctor and nursing staffing in the New Year to help reduce ED waiting times. It said in a press release today that it was investing $4.4 million in recruiting five senior doctors, seven junior doctors and 12 nurses for its ED and several of these had already been recruited.
Executive Director of Waikato Hospital Services Brett Paradine said Waikato Hospital had 297 patients present at ED in one day in July – the most this year and 80 more than usual. Also that it had a 16 per cent increase in ED attendances in June compared to the previous year, which was the equivalent to more than 100 additional attendances.
The DHB said it was also increasing nursing staff for two general surgery wards at a cost of $844,000 and was currently recruiting doctors, nurses and other ward staff for a new 27 bed Older Persons and Rehabilitation ward due to open in early September.
Paradine said the number of people turning up to Waikato Hospital ED had increased 20 per cent over the last five years. “Patients are also spending longer in the hospital, which is putting more pressure on the available hospital beds.”
He said Waikato Hospital had already implemented an overflow bed policy which identified additional beds on 24 wards, in family rooms or treatment rooms, throughout the hospital. These were being used for patients who are waiting for discharge in times of high bed occupancy, when inpatients in the Emergency Department experience delays moving into a specialty ward bed. It had increased the size of the ED’s short stay area by five seats and increased the use of rural hospitals for relocating inpatients closer to home to free up beds in the base hospital.
Mr Paradine said: “While we are investing substantial sums in increasing the hospital’s capacity it is not going to completely solve the demand issue which is growing day by day and we need to work closely with our partners in primary care to help us manage this demand.