Tauranga's growing popularity as a holiday hot spot during the festive season is placing a strain on emergency health services.

The 2015/2016 Christmas and New Year period has seen the highest number of emergency department admissions in the past six years.

Dr Derek Sage, headof Tauranga Hospital's emergency department. Photo/file
Dr Derek Sage, headof Tauranga Hospital's emergency department. Photo/file

On New Year's Eve, out-of-towners boosted Tauranga Hospital's emergency department admission numbers, making it busier than last year and a "heavy night" for medical staff.

Tauranga Hospital clinical director Dr Derek Sage said 57 patients came through the emergency department between midnight and 8am on New Year's Day, up from 45 patients last year.


"There was a high percentage of out-of-towners boosting the numbers," Dr Sage said.

Dr Sage said staff had coped with the demands of the season but it had come at a price, with very few people being allowed to take leave. Admissions on New Year's Eve were primarily drug and alcohol related, Dr Sage said. "All of the drink-related attendances are preventable, and there are a lot of those this time of year."

St John Western Bay of Plenty territory manager Ross Clarke said the holiday period was always busy in Tauranga and Mount Maunganui but this year was "much, much busier than average".

Mr Clarke said across December 31 and January 1 St John Ambulance attended 169 urgent calls just within Tauranga city limits, citing the increased number of holidaymakers and out-of-towners as a contributing factor.
"We have to put on extra staff, resources and rely on volunteers," Mr Clarke said.

More than 50,000 revellers filled the Mount's main streets for New Year's celebrations.

Emergency department attendances Christmas Day to New Year's Day

¦2010: 559
¦2011: 562
¦2012: 557
¦2013: 600
¦2014: 590
¦2015: 605
¦2016: 670