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Our 17,000 emergencies

By Emily Norman

[email protected]

Whether you’ve come down with a nasty stomach bug, broken your arm, or have managed to injure yourself with a chainsaw, Wairarapa Hospital’s emergency staff have seen it all.

There were almost 17,000 admissions to Wairarapa’s emergency department last year, spanning causes from scarlet fever to being run over by a car.

The busiest months in the year were June and July with 1527 admissions and 1452 respectively – almost 50 patients a day.

An official information act request showed more than 99 per cent of patients were treated and either discharged or admitted within a six-hour window last year.

On average the waiting times for the busiest two months were 1 hour 42 minutes, and the month with the longest average waiting time, October, had a wait time of 2 hours 8 minutes.

Also revealed in the information request were the reasons for the 16954 emergency department admissions.

Of these, at least 100 were assault-related, including being shot in the head with a cross-bow, being bottled, stabbed, and being knocked out.

More than 100 admissions were due to accidental or intentional overdoses including several with paracetamol and some with nicotine gum and lozenges.

There were more than 60 spider or insect bites that required medical attention throughout the year, and about 90 cases of bee and wasp stings.

Four injuries were listed as quad bike related, and at least 180 injuries resulted from car or motorbike collisions.

At least seven cases of near-drowning required emergency medical attention, with most being 0-19-year-olds.

The largest proportion of admissions were based on general feelings of sickness, vomiting and abdominal pain, however there were also many arm and leg injuries which called for emergency attention.

More than 200 admissions were mental health related including about 25 suicide attempts and about 40 injuries which were listed as self-harm.

Of all ED admissions, the age group that presented the most was 0-19-year-olds, making up more than 4600 visits.

The age group to follow was 20-39-year-olds, with almost more than 3800.

There were about 3350 visits by 40-59-year-olds, 3550 by 60-79-year-olds, and about 1600 by 80-109-year-olds.

Gladstone resident Simon Bognuda, who was rushed to hospital with internal bleeding last month, said he was impressed by the treatment he received from emergency medical staff.

“People in A&E reacted very quickly, ran some tests and kept me in overnight.”

He had an operation the next day.

“Throughout the whole thing, I was treated with a great deal of humanity, which I found very refreshing because I have had a number of negative experiences in both this hospital and in the Hutt.

“I was very pleased to be in Wairarapa Hospital.

“My observations were that this was done whilst they often operated under severe pressure.

“All of the medical people I came into contact with have my admiration.”

Last year, the Wairarapa Hospital received just under 60 compliments, and almost 90 complaints.




What came into ED last year


Shot in head with cross-bow   20-29 age group

Accidentally injected ewe vaccine into hand 40-59 age group

Knuckle injury – hitting a wall instead of a person     20-39 age group

Arm laceration – fight at school, went through window        0-19 age group

Wrist injury – altercation with another patient           60-79 age group

Reaction to immunisation       0-19 age group

Vomiting after swallowing river water          20-39 age group

Someone has spiked drink      20-39 age group

Accidental ingestion of petrol            40-59 age group

Head injury – hit self in head with axe           40-59 age group



  1. There are some messed up stats there, I know 4 persons who have waited between 5 and 9 hours.
    One was from 7 pm and then seen at 5 am?!!!? Motor bike accident, busted shoulder, I believe the receptionist is neglecting to register patrons on arrival.

    • All ED departments have a triage nurse. It’s not the receptionist who determines who takes priority. What people fail to realize sometimes is that an empty (or a not so busy) waiting room does not mean an empty department. There are patients that come via ambulance who are more unwell than those in the waiting room. Patients who require pain management but are not acutely unwell are normally managed by controlling their pain even if they are in the waiting area even if they were not fully assessed by a doctor. All patients are normally registered on arrival. However, if a patient decides to leave and come back, that counts as a new presentation

Comments are closed.

Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland is Wairarapa’s Local Democracy Reporter, a Public Interest Journalism role funded through NZ On Air. Emily has worked at the Wairarapa Times-Age for seven years and has a keen interest in council decision-making and transparency.

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