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Managers were "quite ambitious" in their initial predictions of gains from a $2.7 million observation unit in Dunedin Hospital's emergency department (ED), and these have been revised down, a Southern District Health Board committee heard yesterday.
Patient services executive director Lexie O'Shea told the board's hospital committee the unit added 3% to 4% to the number of patients treated within the national six-hour stipulation.
Before it opened in August, the board gave estimates of up to a 10% improvement in the time target, on which Dunedin Hospital is a consistently poor performer.
The ED processed 87.9% of patients within six hours in October, the best result this financial year.
Patients requiring extended monitoring are formally admitted to the 10-bed unit.
Mrs O'Shea said the board must review growing attendances at ED, which were up about 5% on last year.
Committee member Richard Thomson said while he was "terrified" of yet another discussion of how to reduce numbers attending ED, the board must look wider than the hospital to work out what was happening.
It should survey general practice to determine whether attendance patterns were changing in the community as well, he said.