Te Whatu Ora – Health New Zealand continues to monitor health system pressures and performance across the motu.
The Aotearoa health system does continue to experience pressure due to ongoing high acute demand. Nationally, emergency department (ED) attendances and hospital admissions from ED have risen in recent weeks. Similarly, hospital occupancy and the number of patients with a long length of stay have remained high. General practices and urgent care clinics are also experiencing increased demand for acute care, and staff sickness and vacancies across our health system are having an impact.
Pressures are being addressed by focusing on hospital flow, prioritising urgent care, and increasing regional coordination to deliver health services.
Hospitals across the motu regularly operate at high levels of occupancy and attendance fluctuates from day to day as people are admitted and discharged. Inevitably, at times, our emergency departments experience pressures around flow. We acknowledge ED wait times can be longer than we would like to see and we are conscious of the impact this can have on people and their whānau.
Clinicians are working hard to see and treat people in the quickest time while ensuring safety. Triage takes place in the emergency department so those who are most at need of urgent care are seen first. Importantly, clinicians monitor people waiting to ensure, if necessary, people are reprioritised if there is a change in urgency.
To help alleviate pressures on ED, we are already working with local hospital networks to implement a range of initiatives - such as expanding access to telehealth services and providing greater after-hours options for patients. This includes providing telehealth clinical triage to those who need it, and supporting ambulance paramedics to provide treatment in the community. It also includes the introduction of vouchers so lower acuity patients who do not require emergency care can visit a GP or clinic in the community, easing pressure on EDs while allowing clinicians to provide treatment to patients who need emergency care in a timelier manner.
As a unified health system, we have to look forward and plan forward – and that’s why we’re considering the use of tools, like these, to help keep people well in the community and support demand on healthcare services, particularly at hospital level.
Where to get health advice:
- Your local pharmacist can help with advice on minor ailments and cold and flu symptoms. Some pharmacies also offer vaccination for influenza, MMR, and COVID, and blood pressure measurement and monitoring, blood glucose and blood cholesterol tests. Pharmacists can also provide antiviral medications, without needing a prescription, for the treatment of COVID-19 for some people.
- If you become increasingly unwell, have underlying health conditions, or you are concerned about your health, call your GP or Healthline on 0800 611 116 for medical advice.
- If you are severely unwell, call 111 for urgent medical attention.