Record demand sees surgeries postponed at Hawke's Bay Hospital

Hawke's Bay Hospital
Hawke's Bay Hospital. Photo credit:

Hawke's Bay Hospital is defending its move to cancel elective surgeries in the wake of unprecedented demand.

New Year's Day was its busiest on record, and the district health board says it's struggling to keep up with the demands days later.

Acting chief medical officer Dr Simon Shaw says they've made necessary calls in an attempt to keep on top of workloads.

"Surgeons would have gone through to identify people whose elective operations can safely be postponed for a little while. They would have been offered an alternative."

On New Year's Day 170 people were treated in the hospital's emergency department - breaking the previous record of 169, set in July.

"We apologise to everyone affected by this, but we need to maintain a safe hospital which we can only do by releasing some of the pressure," says acting chief executive Sharon Mason.

The hospital made a similar plea in July.

Dr Shaw says if your condition is minor, see a GP before heading to the emergency room.

"If they are concerned about a health problem there is a healthline that people can contact and get advice. There are GPs and out-of-hours emergency centres in both Napier and Hastings."

The publicly funded healthline is 0800 611 116.

Dr Shaw is confident the problem will not outlast the summer.

"There's a lot of events on, and a lot of tourists. All of that brings a bigger population than we normally have, and that bumps up demand."

Some doctors have worked extra hours or come in on their days off to help, but the hospital is expected to remain at capacity for the next week at least.