Surgery Deferred As Christchurch Hospital Tops 112% Occupancy

Planned care, including some major surgery has had to be
postponed today due to extremely high levels of acutely
unwell people needing to be admitted to hospital. The
situation is made more difficult as Canterbury DHB is also
experiencing high levels of staff sickness.

Responsible Officer for COVID-19, Becky Hickmott says today
Canterbury has 1200 new cases of COVID-19. “We know the
real number will be much bigger than that and the demand for
care is impacting general practice teams, our urgent care
practices, hospitals and health centres.

“More than
170 of our staff are off with COVID-19 today. We’ve had an
average of 200 staff off with COVID-19 every day for some
weeks now. This is in addition to high levels of sick leave
being taken by health staff right across the system for
other illnesses and to care for dependents. With flu now
circulating in Canterbury there’s another serious virus
out there affecting staff and the wider community,” Becky
Hickmott said.

“It’s not too late to get your flu
vaccination, COVID-19 booster or MMR immunisations. By
having your vaccinations and staying well this winter,
you’ll help keep health services free for those who need
urgent care,” Becky Hickmott said.

Hospital’s Chief of Surgery, Greg Robertson says surgical
teams are extremely disappointed at having to defer
people’s surgery, often at short notice. “We don’t
take these decisions lightly, and each case is carefully
considered before a decision to defer is made,” Greg
Robertson said.

“We were just starting to gear up
again after our COVID-19 surgery slowdown, and this week our
hospitals are full of very unwell people with a range of
medical and surgical conditions.

“We’re currently
sitting at 112% occupancy which means we have more patients
than resourced beds, so our focus is on increasing the flow
of patients through our system.

Christchurch Hospital
ED is seeing high numbers of people (380 people in the past
24 hours) and 30% of those coming to ED are so unwell they
need to be admitted to hospital. This means our available
beds are filling up fast and there’s no additional
capacity to accommodate planned surgical

“Reducing the amount of planned surgery we
carry out is the only way we can continue to provide safe
care to those who need it,” Greg Robertson said. “To
those whose surgery has been deferred today, and to those we
will have to postpone this week please accept my sincere
apologies on behalf of the team. I know how disappointing
and disruptive it is to hear that news.

“Once we
have passed this period of intense acute demand, we will
start rebooking people when we can have greater confidence
that their surgery will be able to go ahead. We are working
with the private hospitals in Canterbury to increase
surgical capacity wherever possible. All we can say is
sorry, as right now we need to focus our efforts of people
coming through the front door needing hospital level care,
while preserving some capacity for acute (unplanned)
surgery,” Greg Robertson

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