Doctor shortage and winter virus blow out hospital wait times

By ZOE SINCLAIRzoe@gladstoneobserver.com.au

THE winter virus that saw Gladstone's general practitioners clinics reeling has increased Gladstone Hospital's waiting times to a possible four hours.

The Observer this week reported Gladstone's clinics had no other choice but to turn away about 30 patients a day because a winter virus had them fully booked for at least three days in advance.

With Gladstone residents struggling to get an appointment at clinics, people have had to turn to Gladstone Hospital.

Gladstone Hospital's Emergency Department acting nurse unit manager Leigh Lanzon said yesterday they were down in doctor numbers, up in patient numbers and waiting times were suffering, not to mention staff.

She said the hospital was seeing up to 20 more patients than usual and non urgent cases should be prepared to wait 'at least two hours and possibly longer than four hours'.

'Emergency patients are a priority but semi-urgent and non-urgent patients will still be seen, however they may need to wait for longer periods than usual,' Ms Lanzon said.

Ms Lanzon said the hospital had fewer doctors than usual and was meeting demand as best it could.

'Non-urgent patients should try to attend their GPs if possible or alternatively seek assistance if possible at the hospital and they will be attended as promptly as able,' Ms Lanzon said.



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