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ED delays gets thumbs down

A Wairarapa man endured a nine-hour delay before seeing a emergency department doctor at the Wairarapa Hospital after smashing his thumb with a table saw.

Building company owner Jemery Long said his apprentice son Isaac experienced a great deal of pain during the lengthy wait.

“I was getting updates constantly from my wife saying what hell it was sitting there,” Long said.

“I definitely don’t think it’s reasonable – something’s gotta give.”

The apprentice was injured two and a half weeks ago while working on a construction site.

After the accident happened, Long wrapped his son’s thumb and immediately rang his wife, Mary.

After being advised by Greytown Medical Centre to go to the ED in Masterton because the centre didn’t have the capacity to treat him, Isaac and Mary were greeted by a sign at Wairarapa Hospital saying the ED wait time was longer than four hours.

With about 10 people ahead of him in the waiting room when they arrived, Isaac was offered codeine and paracetamol for pain relief.

The long wait seemed “crazy”, Long said, and it’s not the first time the family has experienced such delays.

About a year and a half ago, after Mary cut her finger “very badly” in the kitchen, she had to wait for 12 hours in the ED to be treated.

“The staff were really under pressure, and they were being abused; it was horrible for them, but also, the patients just weren’t being seen,” Long said.

“It just seems like nothing has improved, and ED is still the same, and it still has the same excuses.”

Long noted that although previous government funding had been tipped into the health system, there were no extra frontline staff or beds, and slashing funding won’t improve the situation.

“Eventually, it’s not going to work,” he said.

“You can’t have an ED that’s not accepting patients.”

Jeremy said he had noticed a decline in service since volunteering with the ambulance in Wairarapa ten years ago.

Wairarapa Hospital ED clinical head Norman Gray previously told the Times-Age that the ED had been “effectively closed” for a period last week due to a lack of beds in the hospital for patients from the ED to be admitted to.

Gray said there is intense pressure on staff and resources within the ED, and long waits sometimes force patients to wait outside when the waiting room is full.

Health New Zealand Te Whatu Ora Wairarapa executive operations leader Kieran McCann said the hospital was not closed but acknowledged the pressures, noting that EDs across the country are experiencing similar conditions.

As reported on March 30, while the current target wait time at the ED is for 95 per cent of those presenting to be seen within six hours, during the 24 hour period to midnight on March 26, only 73 per cent of all attendances were treated within six hours of presenting at the ED.

“Long ED wait times are a consequence of a range of factors that vary across New Zealand. There are no quick fixes to these issues, but Te Whatu Ora is already working closely with health agency partners to address waiting times for emergency care,” McCann said at the time.

“Te Whatu Ora is putting in place a wide range of initiatives to address immediate pressures, as well as working on longer-term ways to ensure a sustainable health workforce.”


  1. The Health department has to take a lot of the blame? When EVERYONE WORKING MUST HAVE A COVID JAB AND MEDICAL STAFF WHERE FORCED ASWELL 🙄 😒. HAVING A HOSPITAL BUILT NOT FIT FOR PURPOSE ADDS TO THE PROBLEM ASWELL 🙄. I hope with the new Government they will fix the Health problems and it’s not FIXED OVERNIGHT SO DON’T BLAME HOSPITAL STAFF THEY DO A GREAT WORK 👍.

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