Some patients in the South are waiting more than 24 hours to access emergency department care, but Invercargill MP Penny Simmonds says she’s not surprised considering the state of local health services.
“New data shows that in April of this year, 13 people waited more than 24 hours to be seen in an emergency department operated by the previous Southern District Health Board – the third highest rate in the country.
“This is an appalling delay for people who are unwell, but it’s not surprising considering the poor state of health services in this province.
“GP’s aren’t taking on new patients, creating a large unenrolled population, which means people are sicker when they get to hospital and take extra time to be seen.
“Urgent doctor care is also limited in Invercargill and expensive, so people end up at the city’s ED, the service is over-run and wait times explode.
“Eighteen months ago emergency department pressures were highlighted, along with GP and hospital staff shortages, and a lack of beds and operating theatre space at our hospital, but nothing was done.
“My concerns at the time were validated by Southland GP’s, specialists and patients, and then confirmed by a Clinical Needs Analysis, from consultants Sapere Research Group in June, stating that health services in Southland were ‘in crisis mode’ and needed urgent action.
“Despite alarm bells ringing loudly, the Health Minister has consistently ignored local concerns, instead promising his $486 million health restructure plan would make things right - so far it hasn’t.
“The lack of improvements is frustrating and I am genuinely worried about local health services, with these appalling ED wait times just the tip of the iceberg.
"I wonder how serious things will have to get before the Government is forced to act.”
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