See your GP and keep ED for emergencies only

23 December 2014

If it is not an emergency it won’t be treated like one at Gisborne Hospital’s Emergency Department. With thousands of extra people expected in the city for the Rhythm and Vines festival it is important that people needing non-urgent healthcare or advice, contact their GP in the first instance. At this time of year the Emergency Department can be stretched to its limits, says Emergency Department Doctor and Clinical Director Johan Peters. “We need to make sure that we have the capacity to treat patients who need serious or more urgent medical help over the holidays.”

All the local medical centres have an after-hours service. If you call the practice you will get the number of who is on-call. Medical attention for visitors to town is provided by Three Rivers Medical. They are open 8am to 8pm weekdays and 9am to 6pm on weekends and statutory holidays.

“Many people could avoid a trip to the Emergency Department at this time of year if they had gone to their GP before the holidays,” Mr Peters said. “It is important people see their GP and get organised by renewing prescriptions and making sure they are up to date with tests and other health needs."

Anyone who turns up to the Emergency Department at Gisborne Hospital will have their illness or injury assessed. Patients will be seen in the order of the seriousness of their condition; not in the order that they arrive. This means that anyone who is not serous could be in for a long wait.

Also helping to avoid congestion at Gisborne Hospital’s Emergency Department are the trained emergency nurses joining St Johns staff at both BW Summer Festival and at Rhythm and Vines.

“We will be providing a 24 hour medical service,” says Jaki Boyle Emergency Department Clinical Nurse Manager. “This makes a big difference minimising the amount of people who come in to the hospital. Festival goers and staff have been advised to go to the St Johns tent in the first instance if they have any medical issues. Essentially staff onsite provide a screening service. They will assess whether someone needs hospital based treatment, whether they can be treated onsite or whether a pharmacist or GP is the best option.”

“However, we don’t want to put people off coming in to hospital if it really is an emergency. Dial 111 for an ambulance. People should call Healthline on 0800 611 611 if they are not sure whether it is an emergency or not. Healthline have trained staff at the end of the phone who will tell you what you should do.

People can also download and use the free Healthline symptom checker app that provides expert health advice and information from Healthline, complementing the Healthline telephone advice service. To download visit

About Healthline

Healthline is a free telephone health advice service available for all New Zealand families/whanau at any time of the day or night. Callers can phone 0800 611 116 from either a landline or a mobile phone for free, confidential health advice.

Healthline is staffed by registered nurses who can advise you on the best thing to do and how urgently you should do it.

Depending on your health issue, this could be advice to see your GP or visit the emergency department immediately, or to see your GP within 24 hours. Up to 40 percent of callers are given information to safely manage the condition themselves at home, including things to try, and advice on what to watch out for. A small percentage of callers are put through to 111.

Healthline nurses can also direct you to the nearest GP clinic or after-hours pharmacist.

You can now also take Healthline with you on holiday! The Healthline symptom checker is an easy to download and use free app that provides expert health advice and information from Healthline, complementing the Healthline telephone advice service. The app is available to download free onto Apple iPhones or iPads via a link from the Healthline website:, or direct from the Apple App store.