Taranaki DHB says five days of rolling junior doctor strikes will place significant strain on hospital resource.
Resident Medical Officers (RMOs), or junior doctors, who are part of the New Zealand Resident Doctor Association started the strike at 8am on Monday. The strike will finish on Saturday at 8am.
Taranaki DHB is urging people to take charge of their health, or face lengthy delays for non-urgent care.
Chief operations officer Gillian Campbell says the strike puts both Taranaki Base and Hawera Hospital under significant strain if people treat its emergency departments like an ambulance at the bottom of a cliff.
"Our hospitals are already busy so we're asking people to please help us out and be sensible about their health care needs by choosing the right care, from the right place at the right time."
Emergency and acute services continue to operate throughout the junior doctor's strike. However, some elective surgery and outpatient clinic appointments have been postponed, and people directly affected have been contacted and had their appointments rescheduled.
Mrs Campbell urged people, and those with dependants, to manage their health in advance of the five-day strikes by updating prescriptions, getting vaccinated and seeing a doctor or nurse in general practice early if they are feeling unwell.
"Saving ED for emergencies is the key to avoiding additional pressure on the hospital system. We strongly encourage people to use the hospital's emergency department for emergencies only as priority will always be given to those with life-threatening conditions.
"If your health condition is not an emergency, then expect significant wait times as we must always prioritise those requiring emergency care first."
■ If you have non-urgent health issues you can:
Call Healthline on 0800 611 116 for free 24/7 advice
Visit your pharmacy for headaches, coughs, colds and infections – advice is free
See a physiotherapist for sprains, muscle injuries and back pain
Or go to your GP, Medicross or Phoenix Urgent Doctors for check ups, ear ache & broken bones.
If you do experience an emergency please call 111 or head straight to ED.