Winter illness has hit Canterbury’s fragile health system hard and Cantabrians are reminded to phone their General Practice Team if they’re unwell and to get immunised against flu to avoid getting sick.
David Meates, CDHB chief executive officer says in the last few weeks, hospital admissions for winter-related illnesses, particularly influenza, have risen dramatically.
“If you are feeling unwell, stay home and if your condition deteriorates phone your General Practice Team. You can phone your own doctor 24/7. After hours your call will be answered by a nurse who can tell you what to do and where to go,” Mr Meates says.
“It’s also really important people get their flu immunisation, it’s free for those who are most vulnerable. It’s always a good idea to see your doctor sooner, rather than later if you start to feel unwell.”
Mr Meates says the surge in patient numbers could be because fewer people have had their flu vaccination this year.
Most of those presenting to hospital had pre-existing medical conditions and some had become seriously ill.
“Last year the CDHB extended the eligibility of the free flu vaccine to under 18s in Canterbury and we dodged a bullet in terms of winter illnesses because people got vaccinated but this year it’s a different story. We are already seeing people admitted to hospital for extended periods, some of them very young. Currently there are 107 people in Christchurch Hospital who have been there more than ten days. Eighty three is the number of people that will create a gridlock situation and reduce the flow of patients through the hospital,” Mr Meates says.
“There are also around 90 people being cared for in isolation for various illnesses and 45 of those have been confirmed as influenza and 27 more are suspected to have influenza. Our Intensive Care Unit is also full and includes a number of influenza patients. We’re in the process of working with our neighbouring District Health Boards and private providers to ensure the ongoing delivery of elective surgery.”
General Practices are also being asked to give patients with influenza symptoms same day appointments where possible.
Influenza vaccine is available free in Canterbury for those aged under 18, over 65 pregnant women and anyone with a chronic illness, including mental illness.
Immunisation key to avoiding flu
This year they are A(H3N2) with some A(H1N1) and influenza B viruses
There's still time to get vaccinated and it's free until 31 July for:
School holidays are a great time to get vaccinated
Contact your general practice team today and get vaccinated
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