Emergency departments in Tauranga and Whakatāne again experienced higher demand over the festive season. Sandra Conchie reports.
Tauranga and Whakatāne hospitals emergency departments had the usual influx of patients over the Christmas Eve-New Year's Day period, but alcohol consumption did not feature as prominently compared to previous years.
A total of 1476 people were seen at Tauranga's emergency department (ED) over the nine-day period, with a daily average of 164, compared to 154 in the previous festive season.
This included 179 on December 30, 149 on December 31, and 185 on New Year's Day.
Another 781 people were seen at Whakatāne ED, with a daily average of almost 87 patients over the nine days, although 128 were seen on December 28.
This compared to a daily average of 63 the previous Christmas-New Year holiday season.
• Premium - Tauranga Hospital juggles spike in emergency department visits
• Tauranga Hospital emergency department 'heaving'
• Cold sufferers urged to stay away from Tauranga Hospital emergency department
• Hospital rates poor in emergency waiting times
Tauranga Hospital clinical director Dr Derek Sage said: "We had additional senior medical staff on duty and although the numbers of patients were still high, we were pleasantly surprised they didn't reach the extreme heights we had anticipated.
"In Whakatāne, they have had some particularly busy days, including one where 128 patients were seen. They had a lot more medical admissions as well during that period.
"The Eastern Bay certainly seemed to be hit a bit harder than the Western Bay in terms of patient numbers," Sage said.
"It has been a very mixed bag of ED presentations this year. While it is fair to say that we've had the usual, expected increase of patients related to alcohol in particular, the reality it was not as prominent a feature this year as it has been in previous years."
Sage said there were still significant numbers of people "who could and should" have been treated elsewhere.
"We would always encourage people to seek more appropriate avenues of care, such as the GP or pharmacist for minor ailments where possible.
"We also experienced an increased number of out-of-towners presenting to both EDs and that was particularly the case in the Eastern Bay of Plenty.
"In summary, I would say that there was an expected increase in numbers, as is typical at this time of year with holidaymakers. But there wasn't a specific pattern to these presentations, with alcohol-related instances not being as prevalent as in previous years."
The Bay of Plenty Times sought the same data from the Lakes District Health Board for Taupō and Rotorua hospitals.
But the newspaper was advised that an Official Information Act request was required to obtain the information which could take up to 20 working days.
Patients Tauranga Hospital and Whakatane ED:
Christmas Eve 2019 to January 1, 2020
December 24: 140, 75
December 25: 146, 49
December 26: 167, 96
December 27: 178, 89
December 28: 174, 128
December 29: 158, 94
December 30: 179, 75
December 31: 149, 77
January 1, 2020: 185, 98
Source: Bay of Plenty District Health Board