Due to medical staff shortages, there may be longer wait times than usual for people seeking less urgent care at Christchurch Hospital’s Emergency Department (ED) this weekend.
Everyone who comes to the ED will be seen by a nurse when they first arrive and their condition will be triaged (assessed for urgency). People who come in with non-urgent conditions that could be treated by a General Practice or Urgent Care clinic can expect a prolonged wait while our clinical staff focus on treating people who arrive with life or limb-threatening injuries.
“I need to emphasise that if you are very unwell, please head to the ED straight away and do not delay. However, we ask you to be patient if you do need to wait,” says Becky Hickmott, Senior Responsible Officer for Seasonal Pressures.
“At peak times we will have kaiÄwhina (health support workers) supporting the waiting room which is a new intiative. If you think your condition is getting worse, please speak up to our staff who can let the triage nurse know.
“Acute and emergency care will always be available. We do apologise to those who have to wait and understand that this can be particularly distressing when unwell.”
The ED is short of five junior doctors (Resident Medical Officers) this weekend which is 30% of the department’s usual number per day due to a mix of sick leave, annual leave and vacancy. Some senior doctors will be providing extra cover, but the department is experiencing unprecedented medical shortages.
Anyone who doesn’t want to wait to be seen at an Urgent Care clinic, might like to try a virtual consultation with a clinician. There are apps enabling you to have an appointment with a New Zealand registered health practitioner without seeing them in person. This is also called a virtual consult or telehealth. You can find a list of some of these providers here, several of whom have evening and weekend availability, and one offers free consultations for children aged under 14 years
Christchurch has three urgent care clinics where you can seek care in person, the 24 Hour Surgery, Riccarton Clinic (8am-8pm) and Moorhouse Medical Centre (8am-4pm). You can also see your local pharmacist for advice on medication and minor health concerns.
For free health advice over the weekend, please phone Healthline on 0800 611 116 any time of the day or night and they can advise you on what to do and where to go if you do need to be seen urgently. Parents and caregivers can call PlunketLine on 0800 933 922 at any time to talk with a Plunket nurse if they have unwell infants or children.