Key Points:

A "spike on a spike" of winter sicknesses is pushing some Tauranga health services to the limit with one centre seeing three times more patients than usual. Accident and Healthcare on Second Ave had about 400 patients last weekend, triple its normal load, and people unable to see their GP have been turning up at Tauranga Hospital's Emergency Department. Western Bay of Plenty Primary Health Organisation chief executive Roger Taylor said the region's health bodies were collaborating to manage a "spike on a spike" of winter illnesses.

It's way, way ahead of normal levels of activity and way, way ahead of what normally occurs at this time of year.
Roger Taylor
Accident and Healthcare manager Dave Gilbert said there had been a "massive influx" of patients at the centre in the past three weeks. On Monday, the medical centre had 169 patients, more than it usually got on a weekend. It had "just pushing" 400 patients last weekend and a similar number the previous weekend, compared to their usual 130 to 140 patients. "We're doing our best to keep up but at times there will be longer waits than normal so please be patient. "Every year it seems to be getting busier and busier. There needs to be more hands on deck, absolutely. But doctors don't grow on trees." Bay of Plenty District Health Board's business leader of the emergency department, medicine, health in ageing and pharmacy, Neil McKelvie, said emergency department patients were reporting that they had been unable to see their GP. "What that means is that there are people in the emergency department who could be getting assistance elsewhere. That stretches resources because we see everyone who attends and our doors are always open ... we can see people and we have been seeing people, but it's the additional stress, in an already busy time, being put on the system by people who can be more appropriately treated elsewhere. "If we are treating people with colds and flu-like symptoms it absorbs resources which should be utilised attending to the real emergencies." Western Bay of Plenty Primary Health Organisation chief executive Roger Taylor said the number of people presenting with winter ills had gone "very high, very quickly". General practices, Accident and Healthcare and the emergency department were working together to manage the level of activity. Each had been asked to identify whether there was space to do more, such as if a practice had a locum it called on who could work. Mr Taylor said those places had been experiencing record levels of presentations. "It's way, way ahead of normal levels of activity and way, way ahead of what normally occurs at this time of year." Mount Medical Centre practice manager Karilyn Lowe said at the beginning of June, there were flu-like symptoms and viral infections going around and it had been busy. Baymed regional manager Philippa Fox said there had been a large number of patients coming through in the past three or so weeks, but it was nothing Bayfair Doctors and Papamoa Doctors could not cope with.