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Waiting, waiting, waiting at ED


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Last month 122 patients spent more than six hours in Wairarapa Hospital’s Emergency Department waiting room.

This is according to the agenda for the final meeting of the 2016-19 Wairarapa District Health Board which was held on Tuesday.

The newly-elected board will be welcomed next month.

While the DHB saw 91.9 per cent of patients within six hours it failed to meet its target of 95 per cent of patients seen within six hours.

October was not the only month its target wasn’t met – in the past 12 months only February and April were above the 95 per cent target.

Evening was the most common time for people to be waiting longer than six hours with 62 per cent of ‘breaches’ occurring then.

However, the agenda also said that nearly a third of all people who waited longer than six hours were seen within six and a half hours.

‘Clerical error’ may have incorrectly labelled approximately 10 per cent of waits longer than six hours.

An increase in the number of ‘Triage three’ – or ‘urgent’ cases may have also affected the DHB’s ability to meet the 95 per cent target.

The DHB said it welcomed “the engagement of the senior clinicians in the department and looked forward to exploring options to help improve our performance”.

The agenda also reported that there was “rising concern” over patients without a place to stay who were becoming “stranded within our hospital environment”.

“This has resulted in increased reportable events of violence [physical assault], verbal abuse, vandalism and inappropriate behaviour severely adversely affecting staff, visitors and other patients and their family/whanau and on an increasing basis resulting in harm to staff and absorbing a high level of resource to manage.

“Strategies for the appropriate placement of such cases needs to be prioritised and set in place to eliminate a reoccurrence in future.”

The board also heard from director of Pacific Health, Tofa Suafole Gush, who presented a plan for Pacific health in the region over the next five years.

Gush was congratulated by the board for her achievements in working with the Pacific community, with 99 per cent of Pacific residents in Wairarapa having been enrolled with a primary health organisation.

The retirement of doctor and board member Alan Shirley was also acknowledged by the board, Shirley had been a surgeon at Wairarapa Hospital for nearly 36 years.

Shirley also served as the chief medical officer during that time and a few stories, some of them humorous, were told by fellow board members.

As the public session of the meeting wrapped up board chairman Sir Paul Collins thanked the DHB management and board for their work at the DHB.


  1. I waited for 8 hrs on Tuesday. Got there at 10.30 in the morning and finally went through to the Doctor at 6.30pm. Something has to be done!! The Doctors/Nurses/Staff are amazing but so under staffed.

  2. Yes, we were one of these, my husband had a serious knee injury but we had to wait for over 6 hours. I can’t blame the nurses but blame the system. Build up of patients waiting for xrays as they had been on a strike so there was a backload of patients, I guess we were lucky because they were going to be on strike the next day.. I don’t know how this can be corrected, more Drs !! Whatever we were grateful to finally be seen.

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