Local health officials say the usual expected spike of winter bugs and illnesses did not hit the city this winter.

Dr Derek Sage, Tauranga Hospital's emergency department clinical director, said there had been an increase in the patient numbers generally attending ED year-on-year, but not due to winter illnesses.

There were 73, 516 emergency department patients in the financial year ended June 30, 2016, compared to 68, 962 in the same previous 12-month period, he said.

"That represents a 5.1 per cent increase," Dr Savage said.


"Population increase would certainly have played a significant part in the rise in ED presentations we are experiencing but we are currently investigating whether other factors are also been having an effect on patient numbers," he said.

"However, if you look at people presenting with winter illnesses those numbers have decreased," Dr Savage said.

In July last year 286 people presented with illnesses such as chest infections, influenza and respiratory illness, whereas in July this year that number had dropped to 91.

Dr Savage said there had been a delay to the general 'winter season' this year compared to last.

However, any general increase in patient numbers placed pressure on the emergency department, and many of those could have visited their GP instead, he said.

Dr Savage said factors driving people to turn up at the hospital, included the cost and the availability of GPs at a time convenient to the patient.

David Gilbert, manager of 2nd Avenue Health Centre, said the number of patients presenting with winter ills wsd nothing out of the ordinary compared to last year.

Across town at Mount Medical Centre practice manager Karilyn Lowe said while the centre had been busy, demand was no more than usual.

Toi Te Ora Public Health Service's medical officer Dr Jim Miller of said it was difficult to say why there had been fewer winter illness presentations to the ED in July.

"However it is good to see fewer people being unwell," he said.

Dr Miller said the common cold, influenza and stomach bugs were frequent causes of winter ailments and there were a few simple things to protect you and your family.

If you or your family members are unwell:

- Don't spread your germs around - stay off work and school until you are feeling better.
- Practice good cough and sneeze etiquette -cover your mouth and nose with a tissue
when coughing or sneeze into your elbow.
- If your child has a sore throat get it checked by a GP or Nurse - this can prevent
rheumatic fever.
- Keep up-to-date with your immunisation - check with your GP.
- For free health advice phone the Healthline on 0800 611 116.