NZ Local News

Christchurch Hospital Emergency Department swamped, patients urged to only turn up for emergency

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Christchurch Hospital’s emergency department is expected to be in high demand until Wednesday morning. Photo / George Heard

Christchurch Hospital Emergency Department is in high demand tonight, with more than 100 people waiting for care.

Te Whatu Ora Waitaha group director of operations Jo Gibbs said more than 100 people were being cared for in the emergency department (ED) at 9.15pm tonight.

“There is no single reason for high numbers of patients attending at present, but we are currently seeing patients with a range of complex conditions.”

Gibbs said the hospital’s ED is one of the busiest in the country and at its peak has seen up to 430 people in a 24-hour period.

“The usual number of attendances is between 330 and 370 people every day. To have more than 100 people being looked after at this time is a large number of unwell people to assess and care for.”

The high rates of occupancy and presentations were expected to continue until Wednesday morning.

“As always, patients are prioritised soon after arrival and seen in order of urgency,” Gibbs said.

Patients that did not have an emergency were encouraged to seek alternative health advice and advised that they may be in for a long wait if they decided to turn up to the ED.

Anyone experiencing a medial emergency was urged to still call 111 immediately.

“Free health advice is available from a range of providers, including free health advice over the phone by calling Healthline on 0800 611 116 – they are available 24/7 or consider a virtual telehealth consultation with a registered New Zealand health practitioner for non-urgent health issues.”

Anyone experiencing a medical emergency should still call 111 immediately.

“Thank you for keeping the Emergency Department free for those who have no alternative and need life-saving emergency care. And thank you for your patience if you do have an extended wait, we know if can be stressful and frustrating if you’re not feeling well,” said Gibbs.

Options for people with non-urgent health problems:

  • Minor injuries and illnesses like colds, coughs, fevers and mild COVID-19 can be treated safely at home. Check out the free advice available on Healthify in the Health A to Z
  • You can visit to learn more about the healthcare choices available
  • Consider a virtual appointment with a NZ-registered Doctor who can give advice and prescriptions etc online via phone, laptop or other device, from the comfort of your own home (
  • Your local pharmacy can advise on over-the-counter medications and treatments including pain management.
  • Many GPs can issue repeat prescriptions over the phone or online
  • If you have a sprain or injury, you can go straight to a physio without a referral – they can register an ACC claim, and organise X-rays and specialist referrals.

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