A surge of people using emergency departments across the Waikato during the Christmas and New Year period has highlighted a need for the public to be better prepared.
Health professionals are encouraging people to visit their general practices before they close down for Christmas to organise their regular prescriptions and blood tests.
It is easy enough to do, said Midlands Health Network chief executive John Macaskill-Smith.
GPs expect the next few days to be busy with people needing prescriptions for regular medication and holiday health care plans and plan accordingly, he said.
The public needs to start preparing for the holiday season now and check their GP’s opening hours.
Once they are closed down, even by ringing your GP you will be able to get the right advice and information on where to go for treatment.
“If you ring your GP first and need to see a doctor when they are closed you will get a lower cost visit at an accident and medical clinic rather than put pressure on emergency departments,” he said.
Waikato Hospital Emergency Department clinical director Dr John Bonning said people need to consider what medications they will need over the holiday period and visit their general practitioner (GPs) now.
“Families need to think about caring for their elderly and loved ones.
“They need to be aware that a lot of clinics will be closed for a couple of weeks and it really helps us if they have planned for those eventualities.”
Bonning said after-hours clinics would be able to refer emergency patients to the hospital if needed but asked people to remember emergency departments are not there for the public’s convenience.
“During the year we often get people who come in at 10pm on Sunday night and say I couldn’t wait till tomorrow, I’ve got work, but they have a condition that could easily be treated the following day during business hours. Patients should only come to us if they have acute and emergent needs.”
Thames Hospital is preparing for its usual holiday influx with more than 100,000 people expected to visit the region over the summer.
Last summer Thames Emergency Department treated between 90 and 100 patients per day, almost 60 patients more than an average day.
Thames Hospital clinical director Dr Ruth Large urged tourists to remember their medications before they leave for their holiday and consider sun safety measures.
“People need to remember to pack their medications, and please wear sunscreen when they are out in the hot Coromandel sun,” she said.
Large said parents also need to be vigilant while their children are swimming.
“It is a horrible time of the year to lose someone,” she said.
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