Public reminded to save ED for emergencies this festive season

20 December, 2018

As Taranaki DHB’s hospital Emergency Departments prepare for a busy festive season, the public is being reminded to save ED for emergencies and seek non-urgent medical assistance from other health care services.

Therese Manning , Clinical Nurse Manager at Base Hospital ED, says when people with non-urgent health issues use another service, it frees hospital ED staff up to deal with patients in an emergency who need serious and more urgent medical help.

“Our ED teams are extremely well trained to take care of people in the first few moments of an illness or injury which can be critical to a patient’s outcome. We deal with serious pain and trauma like heart attacks, strokes and people involved in motor accidents that have severe injuries. That’s what we are here for and are really good at.”

Taranaki Base and Hawera Hospital Emergency departments often run at capacity and need to minimise the high numbers of non-urgent people coming into ED over the Christmas/New Year period.

People with non-urgent health concerns are advised to visit their GP, local pharmacist, or Medi-Cross and Phoenix during opening hours. Medi-Cross and Phoenix also have x-ray services and a doctor available 24/7.

Ms Manning explains “By non-urgent, we mean soft tissue injuries, sprained ankles, stubbed toes, common coughs and colds, ear ache, renewal of prescriptions and even hangovers. Basically, a range of injuries and symptoms that would be better managed with a call to 0800Healthline, a visit to your GP, Medicross, Phoenix Urgent Doctors or a quick trip to the pharmacy to get checked out.”

Earlier this month, the government introduced lower cost GP visits for community service card holders and zero fees for enrolled children to include 13 year olds. This means children aged 13 and under won’t be charged a fee for visits at most general practices or after-hours services at participating clinics and pharmacies.

“We’ve been advising people to get organised before Christmas by visiting their GP, renewing their prescriptions and ensuring their tests are all up to date to minimise the high numbers of non-urgent people coming into ED over Christmas and New Year. We hope these reduced costs will help families seek help from the correct health services, rather than coming into ED with their non-urgent issues.”

“Of course it is very important that people experiencing a genuine emergency call 111 for an ambulance or go to ED. But if everyone else could save ED for emergencies this festive season that would be appreciated,” she says.

Taranaki DHB recommends the following options before you make the trip to ED:

  • Call 0800 Healthline (0800 611 116). It’s a 24-hour service and registered nurses will address the symptoms, recommend a care plan and help to reassure worried parents.
  • Visit your pharmacy or a physiotherapist for advice.
  • Book an appointment with your GP. Children under 14 are free and there are low cost options for community service card holders and adults who are registered with Very Low Cost Access (VLAC) GPs in New Plymouth, Stratford, Opunake, Hawera and Patea. For more information please visit

If your GP is busy, away or it’s the weekend you can visit MediCross or Phoenix during opening hours in New Plymouth. They also have a doctor available 24/7 (charges apply).

Medicross and Phoenix offer x-ray services and can treat broken bones (charges apply).

For more information please call
Beth Findlay-Heath
Taranaki DHB Communications Advisor
021 665 017



Last updated: Friday, January 11, 2019

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