Emergency staff at Rotorua flat out on holidays

By Katie Holland, katie.holland@dailypost.co.nz

Mountain biking and other holiday mishaps kept the Rotorua Hospital emergency department busy over the festive period.

Emergency department clinical director Dr Peter Freeman said leisure and sporting injuries had increased over Christmas and New Year, as would be expected at that time of the year.

"The number of mountain biking injuries was noticeable to the point that staff in the emergency department kept a log of the different Redwood tracks the cyclists were on," he said.

The busiest days at the emergency department were New Year's Eve, New Year's Day and January 2 - more than 120 people attending each day. The daily average over the course of the year is 85.

Just 79 people went to the department on Christmas Day, the only day between December 22 and January 3 where patient numbers slipped below the average.

Dr Freeman said many of those going to emergency departments would have been seen by their GP at other times.

"Lakes PrimeCare was also busy over this period - so there was likely to be a wait wherever they went," he said.

"Attending the emergency department with a minor problem is likely to result in a wait to be seen and takes essential clinical staff away from the more urgent cases."

Dr Freeman said patients in the waiting room sometimes got frustrated as they were unaware of the more serious ambulance patients who had to be a priority for emergency staff.

Lakes PrimeCare business manager Christine Kampfraath said the clinic, which was open from 8am to 10pm every day, was always at its busiest over the Christmas holidays and this year had been no exception.

She said as well as the influx of holidaymakers, plenty of locals were seen as GP surgeries were closed. Patients had the "same kind of accidents and medical problems" as at other times of the year, noting there were plenty of youngsters around.

"At the moment, under-sixes are free after hours. A significant number of [them] were seen over this time, both locals and from out of town."

Dr Freeman said Taupo hospital also saw higher than usual numbers of patients over the festive season, peaking at 54 on New Year's Day, almost double the daily average of 28.

"This is often the case at holiday periods with a large influx of visitors to [the area]," he said.

- Rotorua Daily Post

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