Patients treated in hospital’s corridors due to surge in numbers

Emergency department under stress as patients treated in corridors. PHOTO: GEOFF SLOAN

Christchurch Hospital’s emergency department is having to treat up to a dozen patients at a time in corridors, due to an unprecedented number of admissions.

Clinical Director Dr David Richards says the department normally has around 250 admissions a day at this time of year, but in the last three weeks it’s been more like 300.

He says the hospital has been at capacity, so on average they’re having to treat 10 or 12 patients in the ED hallways.

Richards says “the situation is unacceptable”.

“It’s unpleasant for the patients and family members, it means staff have to navigate the trolleys, and it provides very little privacy,” he said.

“Obviously we try to move patients into a cubicle to examine and treat them but it’s a very unsatisfactory state of affairs.”

Richards says a lot of people have had the flu or viruses, but others have had to wait days to see a GP and ended up needing emergency care.

“GPs are working very hard and seeing record numbers of people in after-hours clinics, but they’re struggling to cope with increased demand,” he said.

Richards says the record numbers of patients are taking their toll and they’re seeing increased sickness in staff.

He says the DHB is asking the Ministry of Health for urgent staffing increases to help, but that hasn’t happened yet.

The Ministry has been approached for comment.

-NZ Herald