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A full hospital emergency service for West Auckland has been put in doubt by an "efficiency plan" being written by health officials.

An emergency department was added as part of the $60 million upgrade and expansion of Waitakere Hospital, completed in July last year.

But it remains closed to patients from 10pm to 8am.

Others must choose between the fee-charging Westcare White Cross Henderson Accident & Medical Clinic 500m away on Lincoln Rd - subsidised by the Waitemata District Health Board - or public hospitals in central Auckland or North Shore.

The White Cross clinic is the only accident and medical clinic open overnight in West Auckland.

In July last year the board management said the restricted hours for walk-in patients at Waitakere Hospital was to save money. Its emergency department was likely to have no more than 20 patients overnight and the opening of new child and baby services was of higher priority.

A five-year efficiency plan for the hospital will go before board members before year's end.

Waitakere Hospital general manager Rachel Haggerty says that "whether we should or should not open the emergency care centre for 24 hours" will be considered.

* An earlier version of this story said that between 10pm and 8am patients brought by ambulance or referred by a GP were allowed in. This was not correct. All patients are sent to North Shore Hospital during these hours. Incorrect information was supplied by hospital management.