Emergency department presentations at Bundaberg Hospital during the Christmas-New Year period were up 8.6 per cent compared with the previous year.
Wide Bay Hospital and Health Service data shows the busiest day was Friday, 27 December with 188 people seeking assistance.
The hospital described the increase as a “surge” in its media statement but acting chief executive Debbie Carroll said it “wasn't unexpected”.
The revelation came as experts advise that people who aren't experiencing an emergency should consider alternative treatment options. These include:
- See a pharmacist for advice on medication for ailments like coughs
- Call healthdirect on 1800 022 222 for advice from a registered nurse
- Call a mental health counselling service such as beyondblue for advice.
Insurer HCF says healthdirect is a good starting point, instead of the hospital emergency department, if someone is uncertain how serious the illness or injury may be.
“Things like minor allergic reactions, minor injuries to muscles and joints and small household mishaps like cuts and lacerations can generally be managed by GPs,” says Royal Australian College of General Practitioners spokesperson Dr Abhi Verma.
If a fever, vomiting or pain strikes in the middle of the night, can you wait it out and see how it goes or should you seek urgent medical help? It depends.
“Adults can by and large replace their fluids, and if fever doesn’t resolve (with paracetamol) they can try a cool washing down, although a temperature of 40 or 41 degrees is dangerous,” says GP Dr Kenneth Moroney.
Ms Carroll said there's an “ever-growing demand” for hospital services in Bundaberg.
“We would like to thank our residents and visitors for working with us and being patient at what has been a busy time for our staff at all our facilities,” she said.
At Bundaberg Hospital, there were an average 155 presentations per day during the 2019-20 holiday period, compared to 143 per day during the same period in 2018-19 and 138 for the calendar year average.
Ms Carroll said although Wide Bay Health was accustomed to planning for holiday peaks, it still took a significant clinical and coordination effort from staff to provide the best possible care to local and visiting patients.
“On behalf of our executive and board, I’d like to thank all our staff for their efforts throughout the Christmas and New Year period,” she said.
“It takes a whole-of-hospital effort to make sure our care and patient flow is exceptional, and without that our emergency department can’t function.
“While our community celebrates the festive season with loved ones, many of our staff across multiple disciplines are giving up time with their own families to continue to provide high-quality services to our patients.
“It’s their commitment to caring for their fellow community members and visitors to our region that means we can continue to provide consistently great care to patients throughout the holidays.”
- Other news: Quality of care report highlights improvements