Auckland hospitals continue to be inundated with patients suffering from weather-related ailments.
The cold weather, which saw snow fall over much of the region yesterday, has seen hundreds of people presenting at hospital emergency departments with illnesses ranging from coughs and colds to chest pains and pneumonia.
Middlemore emergency department clinical head Dr Vanessa Thornton said there was still "a lot of pressure" on her department though it was less busy than the past few days.
"It takes a while to get over the big hump," she said.
"We're not quite as busy as yesterday but still quite busy."
The department treated 286 people yesterday.
Thornton said they averaged around 240 patients, but could see 300 on an extremely busy day.
Common complaints this week have included respiratory illnesses, coughs, colds and flu, pneumonia and chest pain - largely due to the cold, she said.
Staff illnesses were compounding the problem as there was limited available cover in Auckland.
"In my own department we have been having staff off every shift."
Orthopaedic staff were also stuck in Dunedin following a conference though she did not think their patients had been adversely affected.
Thornton said patient numbers also spiked in the week following a cold snap.
Department staff are working to empty beds to make sure there is room for the "influx", she said.
While Middlemore is the worst affected hospital, others in the region are also under pressure.
Waitemata DHB chief medical officer Dr Andrew Brant said they had also seen an increase in patient numbers though this was partly due to an extension of the hospital's opening hours.
Emergency departments were currently seeing in excess of 200 patients a day. Yesterday, bed occupancy rates were 90 per cent at North Shore and 80 per cent at Waitakere Hospital.
Emergency services were coping, however, with 95 per cent of patients being seen to by medical staff within six hours, which is the national health target.
"While we are coping well, we urge people with non-emergency conditions to see their GP in the first instance. This will help us ensure that we can continue to treat genuine emergency cases in a timely manner," he said. http://www.stuff.co.nz/auckland/local-n ... -hospitals