SDHB working to reduce ED waiting times

Caroline Collins
Caroline Collins
The Southern District Health Board is trialling new initiatives to improve waiting times at its crammed emergency departments.

In winter, emergency department visits always soar.

Dunedin Hospital in particular has come under serious strain, and in July several elective surgeries were postponed after winter demand meant the facility ran out of beds for patients.

''Our staff are doing a fantastic job as we continue to find ways to deal with the increase in demand on our ED services,'' medicine, women's and children's health medical director Caroline Collins said.

Ministry of Health targets ask DHBs to ensure 95% of patients will be admitted, discharged, or transferred from an emergency department within six hours.

Only three DHBs reached that target in the past quarter. The SDHB achieved 89%.

Dr Collins said the SDHB had been working for some time to try to improve patient flow through emergency and the wider hospital through its ''Valuing Patients' Time'' programme.

''We have also successfully trialled and opened an Older Persons Assessment and Liaison unit in Dunedin, which means patients will receive earlier access to expert assessment and treatment.''

The medical assessment unit in Dunedin had also been expanded to include a broader range of patients with medical problems.

A nurse practitioner was helping fast-track Dunedin patients.

''We are trialling other initiatives to increase flow and capacity in Dunedin ED including a 'Fit2Sit' sitting area on comfortable reclining chairs which will be expanded soon to provide eight additional treatment spaces,'' Dr Collins said.

''In Invercargill we have completed a successful trial of a clinical decision unit, and a simple redesign of triage at the hospital's ED is improving patient flow.''

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