Christchurch’s Emergency Department and Urgent Care Clinics will be stretched into early next week

The Emergency Department and Canterbury’s Urgent Care facilities are currently under significant pressure says Norma Campbell, System Wide Operations Centre Controller for Te Whatu Ora Waitaha Canterbury,

There were 368 presentations to ED yesterday which is exceptionally busy for midweek, and 101 people were either being treated or waiting to be seen at 4pm today.

“I need to emphasise that people who need care more urgently will be seen sooner and will get the care they need,” says Norma Campbell.

“If you don’t need emergency care, please phone Healthline on 0800 611 116 any time of the day or night and they can advise you on what to do and where to go if you do need to be seen urgently.  You can also call your usual general practice or speak to your local pharmacist for health advice.”

“There is no single condition causing the high demand, it is a range of illnesses affecting the community.

Although we are asking for your help in reducing demand, if you are really unwell we do still want to see you. I apologise to those who are having to wait and understand that this can be particularly distressing when you are unwell,” Norma Campbell says.

Due to a combination of high demand, very sick patients and a lack of staff, Moorhouse Medical and Riccarton Clinic are currently unable to see walk-in patients and are taking enrolled patients by booked appointment only for the remainder of today, Wednesday 28 September, and at Moorhouse Medical tomorrow, Thursday 29 September.

The 24 Hour Surgery is operating as normal today but is busier than usual with waits of six hours or more for patients with less urgent needs. Tomorrow and into the weekend all three urgent care facilities will be very busy and/or operating reduced services due to staffing issues.

“Our Emergency Department is also exceptionally busy and our hospital is operating over capacity.  We are taking a number of actions to free-up staff capacity, such as postponing some surgeries and rescheduling some outpatient appointments. Note, this will exclude all gastroscopy and colonoscopy procedures as well as urgent cancer surgeries.

“We apologise to everyone impacted by delays in their care, but we need to take these measures to ensure we can continue to provide emergency care,” Norma Campbell says.

“People will be contacted directly if their appointment needs to be rebooked. If you haven’t heard from us, please assume that it is going ahead. If you’re not sure, please phone the number on your appointment letter.”

There are other things you can do that will take the pressure off the system – you can:

  • Treat minor injuries yourself at home, applying an ice pack or frozen peas to a sprain for example, or clean and dress cuts and scrapes that don’t require stitches.
  • Low-grade fevers can be reduced with over the counter medication such as paracetamol
  • Talk to your community pharmacist about issues that non-prescription medication can help with, such as less-severe pain, diarrhoea, hayfever or minor skin complaints
  • Call your GP team if you need a repeat prescription – you may be able to get one without having to make an appointment at the practice
  • For physical injuries that require physiotherapy, you don’t need a referral from a doctor – you can go directly to a physiotherapist who can handle your ACC claim too. You can search for a Physiotherapy New Zealand member by area of practice, keyword and location on


Urgent clinics, reduced hours:

Due to reduced staff capacity, Moorhouse Medical will be closed to urgent care walk-ins for the remainder of today and tomorrow, Thursday 29 Sept. GPs there will be able to see only booked patients until 6pm Monday- Friday. Moorhouse’s other services, including their fracture clinic, will be running as normal.

On Saturday and Sunday, the Moorhouse team will be able to see urgent walk-ins during the reduced hours of 8am to 2pm and on Monday until 4pm (instead of the normal 8pm).

Riccarton Clinic is seeing enrolled patients with booked appointments only today and is expected to also have reduced capacity to see urgent walk-ins tomorrow (Thursday).

The 24 Hour Surgery is operating as normal today but will have staffing issues tomorrow, 29 September.

Hours over the weekend will be updated on Friday.