People urged to keep ED for real emergencies over Christmas

12 December 2014

Taranaki Base Hospital has seen a reduction in presentations at its Emergency Department (ED) over the past five months and is determined to keep ED for real emergencies over the Christmas/New Year period.

Acting Head of Emergency Department, Dr Brad Ellington said, “Based on the reduced presentations at ED between July and November  this year, we could expect 2500 less people through ED in 2015. This is a good start but we need to keep the momentum going over the Christmas holidays and keep ED for emergencies only.”

While the festive season is often a time for families and individuals to celebrate, emergency departments in Taranaki are often stretched to their limits with increased patient admissions, particularly on Boxing day and New Years day. Many presentations could be avoided had people gone to their GP’s prior to the holidays.

Dr Ellington said, “It’s really important people make an appointment to see their GP now and get organised by renewing prescriptions and making sure they are up to date with tests and other health needs before Christmas. This keeps the ED free to deal with patients who need serious and more urgent medical help over the holidays. "

Taranaki DHB and Midland Health Network, the network of 99% of GPs in Taranaki, are working together to ensure patients are seen in the best place so they receive the best care and keep ED for emergencies only all year round.

“People do have other options,” said Dr Ellington. “If someone suffers from sunstroke, they can visit their pharmacy or urgent care centre instead of coming to ED. In Taranaki, both Medicross and Phoenix Urgent Doctors are available 24 hours.”

"Another example is parents concerned for their baby if they wake late at night with a temperature. They don’t need to visit ED, but can instead call 0800 Healthline - it’s a 24 hour service. Nurses will address the symptoms, recommend a care plan and help to reassure worried parents,” said Dr Ellington.

People can also download and use the free Healthline symptom checker app that provides expert health advice and information from Healthline, complementing the Healthline telephone advice service. To download visit

If a patient comes into ED and would be better seen by a GP, ED staff will ring and make an appointment with the patient’s GP or direct them to a general practice who will be able to see them. Patients that have been redirected from ED to their GP for an appointment on the same day will only pay their usual GP fee.

About Healthline
Healthline is a free telephone health advice service available for all New Zealand families/whanau at any time of the day or night. Callers can phone 0800 611 116 from either a landline or a mobile phone for free, confidential health advice.

Healthline is staffed by registered nurses who can advise you on the best thing to do and how urgently you should do it.

Depending on your health issue, this could be advice to see your GP or visit the emergency department immediately, or to see your GP within 24 hours. Up to 40 percent of callers are given information to safely manage the condition themselves at home, including things to try, and advice on what to watch out for. A small percentage of callers are put through to 111.

Healthline nurses can also direct you to the nearest GP clinic or after-hours pharmacist.

You can now also take Healthline with you on holiday! The Healthline symptom checker is an easy to download and use free app that provides expert health advice and information from Healthline, complementing the Healthline telephone advice service. The app is available to download free onto Apple iPhones or iPads via a link from the Healthline website:, or direct from the Apple App store.

For more information please call –
Cressida Gates, Media Advisor, Ph 027 703 6177

Last updated: Friday, December 12, 2014

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