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Why Are We Waiting?

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

24 April 2009 - Health Care Aotearoa says government targets for waiting times in emergency departments encourage behaviour that doesn't meet people's needs.

'Targets will not deal with demand issues, nor will they change who turns up at A & E in the first place,' says HCA co-leader Jenni Moore. 'The pressure of targets also means people are getting shunted through A & E without proper assessment.'

Ms Moore says there are better ways to meet targets than turning people away.

'Past experience has shown that turning people away affects those who have the least ability to decide whether their condition is serious or not, such as those with early symptoms of stroke. When people are turned away by triage nurses, they are likely to under-estimate the seriousness of their condition and may go untreated, with no proper assessment.'

Ben Gray, GP for the Newtown Union Health Service, a member of HCA, says there are currently people being seen in emergency departments who would be better cared for in primary care.

'We already know there are demand issues in emergency departments. What we don't know is the number of people who are not registered with a primary health care service that leads them to go to the emergency department in the first place,' he says.

Mr Gray says the solution lies in improved access to primary health care and better cooperation. 'Both secondary and primary health care teams need to be working more closely together,' he says.

HCA is a national network of more than 55 community-driven and governed primary health care services, including Maori, Pacific peoples, refugees, youth and low-income people.

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