Hawke's Bay Hospital has been forced to postpone nine elective surgeries in the past two days due to unprecedented demand - and indications show that is set to continue for at least another week.

Executive director for provider services Colin Hutchison said Hawke's Bay Hospital had been busy with a steady, high demand of presentations to the Emergency Department.

Since Friday, there had been 131 to 139 daily presentations to ED - higher than the 120 daily average. On Sunday, 158 people presented to the department.

Read more: Havelock North gastro outbreak's lessons guide new winter flu pilot
Vaccination updated to cover new flu strains
Hawke's Bay residents urged to get flu vaccine


However, thatis not the busiest the hospital has been this year. It recorded its greatest number of presentations of 170 on New Year's Day.

Patients were presenting with a variety of illnesses and injuries. However, there were signs influenza (flu) had begun to circulate in the community, with positive tests for Influenza A since July 26.

Dr Hutchison encouraged people who hadn't already had the flu vaccine to have it.

"It's not too late to have your flu vaccination and if you are feeling sick, with flu-like symptoms, an early visit to a family doctor can help prevent a hospital admission, especially for more vulnerable children and older people."

"Winter is always a busy time for hospitals. We are coping with the demand and have put in place some additional measures to increase bed availability, so the hospital can flex up and down according to demand. "

A hospital spokeswoman said people who had surgeries postponed were always clinically assessed for risk and acute patients' surgery had not been postponed.

Dr Hutchison said he wanted to publicly thank teams working throughout the hospital for their hard work and extra hours/shifts many were doing to care for patients.

Where to get medical help

*A list of medical centres and their opening hours is on the website ourhealthhb.nz.

*Healthline - 24-hour advice from a trained registered nurse. Phone 0800 611 116.

*Your local community pharmacy can also offer advice. For opening hours, visit ourhealthhb.nz

Advice: keep your hands away from your face and follow simple hand-hygiene steps to help prevent you from catching and spreading bugs.