MidCentral District Health Board responds: The ongoing demands facing ED at Palmerston North Hospital are reflective of similar issues being experienced by hospitals throughout New Zealand, operations executive, acute and specialist services Lyn Horgan says. The issues affecting ED performance include increases in patient volumes as well as increases in the acuity (severity) and complexity of the conditions people are presenting with. These issues have resulted in longer waiting times for some patients. ED performance also continues to be impacted by high occupancy in hospital inpatient wards, which is contributed to by the increase in patient acuity, Horgan says. “While this creates greater demand for beds at the hospital, we remain committed to high- quality assessment and treatment of patients throughout their acute health journey. “To manage patient flow during periods of high demand, we utilise a range of options, which may include postponing elective surgeries to ensure beds for acute patients. We also work with general practice teams to discharge patients from hospital.” Eight inpatient beds were opened as a women’s assessment and surgical unit in June 2020. The DHB is also progressing plans to increase its acute capacity by building EDOA/MAPU pods adjacent to ED to assist with patient flow at the hospital. EDOA is emergency department observation area and MAPU is medical assessment and planning unit. “Support structures are in place to assist staff to cope with any additional pressures,” Horgan says. “This includes a health and wellbeing support plan, which includes staff undergoing a wellbeing check to identify whether they require additional support.” Anyone who requires emergency care should present to ED as soon as possible. However, people who are not in need of urgent care are encouraged to seek the care they need from a general practice team, a community pharmacy or by ringing Healthline on 0800 611 116.