September 3, 2008

Painful Wait for Injured Jockey

By RODLEY, Aidan

and Times reporters

A Hamilton jockey who suffered a fractured skull and was on life support after a race fall is still waiting to be admitted to Waikato Hospital five days after the accident.

Occupancy rates at the hospital are at critical levels, meaning Paul Boylan, who turns 27 today, has to wait in Palmerston North until he gets the callup for surgery at Waikato.

"I was supposed to get transferred to Waikato Hospital but there's no beds," he told the Waikato Times this morning.

"It does make me angry. There has to be one bed available. I can't understand that there's not one bed. It's a bit hard to believe."

Boylan also received a fractured eye socket, broken ribs, a sprained wrist and severe concussion in the steeplechase fall at Foxton last Thursday.

He was initially on life support at Palmerston North Hospital.

"I can think of better ways of spending my birthday. It's a bit lonely down here," he said.

"I can't remember what happened from the race to waking up in hospital. It's still a bit blurry but it's done some damage to me."

Waikato Hospital officials say occupancy levels are at critical levels, with no respite in sight.

The rate was at 103 per cent this morning, with 24 patients waiting for beds.

This morning there were also 36 patients in the Emergency Department waiting to be seen.

That continued an upward trend that saw the record for monthly attendances in the department broken by almost 200 last month.

An incident management team was formed this morning to grapple with the situation, which hospital spokesperson Mary Anne Gill said was at "crisis point".

Not only was the pressure being felt in Hamilton but around the region, with both Thames and Tokoroa Hospitals also full. Hospitals in Taumarunui and Te Kuiti were also under pressure.

The Emergency Department's admission figure is normally 30 per cent. However, Mrs Gill said that figure was this morning sitting at 47 per cent - meaning nearly half of the people requiring treatment are admitted.

Waikato Hospital group manager Hayley McConnell said weekend acute presentations and a full hospital from last week were the main contributors.

"Our strategies to reduce occupancy such as cancellation of elective medical/surgery procedures and additional beds opened, is not enough to manage the 40 beds required overnight," she said.

"It reduces our ability to receive inter-hospital transfers, referrals and other direct admissions."

The Emergency Department last month saw 4779 patients - up from 4455 in August 2007 and nearly 200 more than the previous month's record in March this year of 4585 patients.

"We've opened more beds but unrelenting acute numbers and an overall increase in length of stay are contributing factors," Ms McConnell said.

But National Party health spokesman Tony Ryall has hit out at what he called a regular log-jam at the hospital.

"People will be querying the sense of running a $30 million surplus when doctors and nurses are forced to treat patients in corridors."

The Times also understands GPs are also under pressure by increased patient loads, including an increase in viral infections.


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