Doctors are urging patients to save the Bundaberg Hospital emergency department for emergencies.
Doctors are urging patients to save the Bundaberg Hospital emergency department for emergencies. Paul Donaldson BUN261017HOS7

Leave hospitals for emergencies only

WIDE Bay Hospital and Health Service is asking people to leave the Bundaberg Hospital emergency department for emergencies during the Christmas and New Year period.

During each Christmas and New Year holiday the Bundaberg Hospital ED experiences a spike in presentations due to a combination of extra visitors to the area, people engaging in recreational activities and the closure of a number of local general practices.

Bundaberg Hospital clinical director of emergency medicine Dr Terry George said the region played host to many people holidaying or visiting family at this time of year, which contributed to an increase in emergency department presentations.

"It's not unusual to have increases in presentations of about 10% above our typical monthly averages during December and January,” Dr George said.

"Visitors are away from their usual doctors, which may result in them coming into the emergency department for assistance with illnesses or injuries normally treated by a GP.

"Since it is the holidays, both visitors and locals may also be taking part in recreational activities that can lead to accidents and result in presentations to the emergency department.

"Due to this increase in presentations, patients triaged with non-urgent conditions may experience longer waits than normal at Bundaberg Hospital.”

WBHHS is encouraging these people with non-urgent conditions to seek alternative medical advice rather than present to the emergency department.

"There are a number of local after-hours GP clinics and home-visit GP services available for non-urgent matters,” Dr George said.

"If you need further help these GP services will send you to the emergency department, but if it's not urgent they can provide you with the necessary care and treatment.”

Queensland Health also provides a 24-hour a day telephone health service via 13 HEALTH.

While non-urgent cases should seek alternative medical assistance, WBHHS is also urging those with urgent illnesses or injuries not to delay coming in.

"Our emergency departments actually experience spikes in presentations in the days after major holidays. Boxing Day is usually significantly busier than Christmas Day,” Dr George said.

"Sometimes we have patients present who have held off coming in so they don't miss the Christmas or new year celebrations. This is never advisable and I urge people to come in to Bundaberg Hospital immediately if they're seriously injured or sick.

"You may miss out on some family time, but it is better for your health to be treated as soon as possible.

"Above all, we want people to have a safe and healthy Christmas and New Year.”

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