The future of a new unit aimed at reducing the pressure on Rotorua Hospital's emergency department is under review - after a trial period demonstrated its "huge value".

Extra staff were employed to staff the Medical Assessment and Planning Unit (MAPU) which was set up on a four-month trial, due to finish this month.

The unit is a short-stay assessment and observation facility staffed by senior medical nurses under the clinical leadership of acting clinical nurse manager Margaret Murphy and clinical director for the medicine service Dr Nic Crook.

Lakes District Health Board service manager for medical services, Jane Chittenden, said the health board was reviewing the trial.

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The unit was set up to cater for medical stable admissions from GPs who were expected to stay less than 24 hours, or those who needed closer monitoring by a trained medical nurse after hours.

About 500 people had been through the unit by early November and it had a positive impact on waiting time targets in the emergency department.

Ms Chittenden said the on-call senior doctor reviewed patients referred by GPs in the unit, which had prevented about 50 per cent of them from being admitted to hospital.

"The Medical Assessment and Planning Unit is a recognised international medical service model in Rotorua Hospital and has demonstrated huge value."

She said they were reviewing the unit's long term sustainability and the chief operating officer and chief executive would review the balance of clinical improvement and financial costs to support the unit going forward.

"The unit was specifically trialled to address the increased winter workload. As such it has had significant benefit to the whole hospital enabling far better management of patients prior to admission. "