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Southern Emergency Departments under pressure

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Southern DHB hospitals are experiencing a level of demand that is virtually unprecedented for this time of year.

The pressure on the hospital has led to a number of elective surgeries, procedures and medical admissions being postponed across both Dunedin and Southland Hospitals, as clinicians seek to make beds available for those arriving very unwell in the ED.

The reasons for the increased demand are not clear, but appear to be being experienced across the country, says Southern DHB Chief Medical Officer Dr Nigel Millar. 

“More patients seem to be presenting acutely unwell, and with complex needs. It’s not clear if this is still a carry-over from care that was delayed due to the COVID-19 lockdown, or if there are other factors involved.

“By the time patients reach the emergency department, this is often the place they need to be. And we do remind anyone who needs emergency care that the service is available to them.

Dr Millar says he acknowledges the concerns of those patients “whose planned care has been delayed as we seek to ensure we are able to prioritise our most unwell patients.” He also expresses appreciation for the general practitioners, home and community support workers, and many others, who are supporting people while they await the surgeries and interventions they need.

“This has been a really challenging year, and it’s not over yet. Again we thank everyone for their understanding as we do what needs to be done for our community,” Dr Millar says.