Proposal to expand ED in the works: SDHB leader

Southland Hospital. Photo: ODT files
Southland Hospital. Photo: ODT files
Southland Hospital’s embattled emergency department may be in line for an expansion.

The Invercargill facility is regularly overrun with patients: in February, Southern District Health Board chief executive Chris Fleming said the building and its staff were under tremendous pressure and that something had to be done.

In a report by Mr Fleming to be considered by the board on Thursday, he said a proposal was being developed to expand the ED space to four medical assessment beds, and to make the department fit for purpose.

"To justify this, benchmarking and good data will be key, so that we can demonstrate that we are not over-resourcing the department relative to what the demands on the department should be, as opposed to what they currently are."

Southland Hospital’s ED is often used by patients who might otherwise be seen by their GP, a situation the SDHB and the WellSouth primary health organisation have been trying to rectify.

However, a recent modelling exercise of patient flow during a busy day using historical data found that even with extra space factored in, the ED was still under pressure at peak times.

"This is a factor of the broader issues we have to work through — what are the appropriate volumes and how do we partner with primary care to manage them down?," Mr Fleming said.

Of patients admitted into the ED, 60% were from Invercargill city and 40% appeared to be coming from out of the immediate Invercargill district.

"This needs further investigation and analysis, but is likely to be a contributing explanation for why the volumes are so high into the Southland ED."

In February, WellSouth announced it would open its own GP practice in Invercargill in an attempt to cater for unmet need in the city.

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