New Year's Day less busy for ED

The inaugural Rhythm and Alps music festival in the Cardrona Valley is believed to be a factor in fewer attendances at the Lakes District Hospital emergency department on New Year's Day.

While ED presentations in December 2013 totalled 701, more than in December 2012, 53 people admitted for treatment on New Year's Day, noticeably fewer than in previous years.

''Although the numbers [of ED presentations] were less this year [in the New Year period], we attribute that to a number of factors,'' Lakes District Hospital operations manager Janeen Holmes said on Friday.

''A lot of young people were over in Cardrona, the weather [in Queenstown] wasn't that fantastic and we also wondered whether [the Queenstown Times] article prior to Christmas, asking people to go to GPs and keep emergency free for emergencies, was quite beneficial as well,'' Miss Holmes said.

''We didn't have the same number of intoxicated presentations as we had last year ... and I think that was because St John were doing a marvellous job sorting them out in town.

''A lot of the pre-planning we did with police and St John really paid off, because we all work really well together and St John, particularly, know who to send to us and who they can deal with,'' Miss Holmes said.

None of the 53 patients on New Year's Day presented with major injuries, she said.

There were two fractures and one intoxicated person who needed hospital attention on New Year's Eve.

There were seven fractures and five drunk people on New Year's Day, down from the 15 drunk people admitted on New Year's Day 2013.

Most of the 53 cases on New Year's Day were men aged 18 to 30, but how patients injured themselves and whether they were residents or visitors was not recorded.

Only non-residents from countries which do not have a reciprocal health agreement with New Zealand are charged for health services.

While it was sometimes difficult to ascertain if a patient was having adverse effects to synthetic drugs, ''probably less than 10'' patients on New Year's Day were thought to have been under the influence of synthetic drugs, which was nonetheless ''significant because we never used to see [any]'', Miss Holmes said.

No patient was recorded as being a threat to staff, but a security guard was present.

''Staff did really well, and planning and knowing we had enough staff on were really important. I think we would repeat everything this year.''

The number of patients stabilised at Lakes District Hospital then transferred to Invercargill or Dunedin hospitals for further treatment because of the severity of their injury increased year on year in November and December 2013.

There were 57 transfers last November, 27 more than in November 2012, and 52 transfers last December, four more than in December 2012.