Health Minister Tony Ryall (right) opens Dunedin Hospital's
new observation unit. Photo by Craig Baxter.
Emergency departments are the ''barometer'' of the health
service, Health Minister Tony Ryall said opening a new unit in
Dunedin Hospital's ED.
It has been operational since the end of August, but
yesterday Mr Ryall unveiled a plaque officially opening the
$2.7 million 10-bed observation unit.
Emergency department waiting times indicated the state of the
community health sector, as well as other hospital services,
Mr Ryall said. This was why the Government closely watched ED
wait times through its six-hour treat or transfer target. He
said Dunedin Hospital ED had improved in the past three
years, from about 70% of the six-hour target to about 88%.
He said the observation unit was part of a wider project
strengthening ED's links with other parts of the hospital.
Southern District Health Board chairman Joe Butterfield also
spoke, saying that while there had been ''difficult times and
tensions'' in ED, the department was looking forward. ED
consultant Dr Caroline Collins thanked Mr Ryall for approving
funding for the unit.
She paid tribute to the department's staff.
''Their commitment and contribution to getting this unit up
and running has been staggering. They really give me hope for
the future of this department.''
During his visit, Mr Ryall announced Central Otago now had a
diabetes nurse specialist authorised to prescribe medication,
the first such nurse in the southern region. The nurse is one
of 15 new diabetes nurse specialists able to prescribe
announced yesterday by Mr Ryall, as the programme is
introduced across New Zealand. It takes the total to 27
''The number of people with diabetes in New Zealand has
almost doubled in the past 10 years and better management of
diabetes is a key health priority,'' he said.
''This provides opportunities for more effective delivery of
diabetes services, as well as for further career development
for specialist nurses.''