Wait times at Northland's hospital emergency departments are unlikely to improve any time soon, according to Northland District Health Board chief executive Dr Nick Chamberlain.
Detailed in a report to the DHB's Equity in Hospitals committee meeting on Monday, the DHB's target for 95 per cent of patients to leave the hospitals' emergency departments within six hours was not met in June - a target which had historically not been met.
Chamberlain said the percentage of patients staying in ED for less than six hours would sit between 81-86 per cent until Northland received its new hospital to replace the current Whangārei facility - the funding for which had not yet been confirmed but was likely to come.
In particular, Chamberlain said, the number would not improve without an acute assessment unit (AAU) - a facility inside a hospital where patients were seen in a more intensive and efficient fashion than on the wards.
"You're going to have to tolerate that [number] being low until we get an acute assessment unit," he said.
Chamberlain said the new hospital was about six or seven years away. However, an interim AAU could be operational in about two to three years.
"It's going to take some time so in the meantime, sorry, it's a target we will not hit."
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Despite not reaching the target of 95 per cent, Chamberlain was confident patient care was still of a high quality at the region's hospitals.
NDHB chief medical officer Dr Mike Roberts echoed Chamberlain's words, saying the best must be made of the current situation.
"What we have to do is concentrate on doing the very best we can in the meantime, but not anticipate a sudden change ... on that metric."
In Monday's NDHB board meeting, acting chief financial officer Joyce Donaldson presented the DHB's result for the 2019-20 financial year, detailing an overspend of more than $8 million.
Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, the DHB set a $12.8m budget for the financial year, however, the actual result was just over $21m when unbudgeted costs such as Covid-19 were included.
Given the DHB's operating spend - which did not include the unbudgeted costs - was $12.3m, Donaldson said she was pleased with the result given the circumstances.