Christmas visitors add to busy holiday season in hospital

AS WE prepare to eat, drink and be merry, our dedicated doctors and nurses are preparing for a busy Christmas as the influx of visitors holidaying in the region drives up patient numbers.

Boxing Day 2015 was one of the busiest times of the year for the Bundaberg Hospital Emergency Department.

On Boxing Day last year, 166 patients went to the Bundaberg ED - compared with 137 on an average day - and 42 of these were admitted to hospital for further treatment.

It was also a hectic day for emergency staff on the Fraser Coast, where 122 patients went through the Hervey Bay Hospital ED - compared with 96 on an average day - and 61 went through the Maryborough Hospital ED.

Last Christmas Day, 137 patients went to the ED at Bundaberg and there were 103 patients at Hervey Bay and 48 at Maryborough.

Urinary tract infections, possible cardiac or chest pain, minor head injuries, abdominal pain, viral infections and gastroenteritis were the most common diagnoses during the last festive season.

Wide Bay Hospital and Health Service acting chief executive Debbie Carroll said many GP practices closed during the Christmas/new year period and there were often many holiday-makers visiting the area who did not have access to their regular GP.

"As a result there is an increase in patients presenting at Wide Bay Hospital and Health Service emergency departments with illnesses and injuries who would normally visit their GP,” Ms Carroll said.

"There are some GP clinics that remain open and WBHHS encourages people to use them when possible instead of the emergency department.”

Australian Medical Association Queensland president Dr Chris Zappala said people drinking more alcohol and taking more risks contributed to busy EDs during the holidays.

"It's always a little worse at this time of year so we need to remember what those safe drinking guidelines are,” he said.

Dr Zappala also urged residents to remember family members and people in the community who were disadvantaged or ostracised at Christmas and keep an eye on those vulnerable in the heat.

"Enjoy yourself but just remember those people less fortunate and bring them into the fold,” he said.

He thanked the ED staff who would be working this Christmas Day and taking time out from their families.

"A huge thank you to those individuals who help us all when we get into scrapes in the holiday season,” he said.

People with non-urgent conditions are encouraged to see a GP or go to a pharmacy for assistance. In an emergency, phone 000 and ask for an ambulance. If you are unsure whether you need to go to an ED, phone 13HEALTH (13 43 25 84) for advice.


  • Ensure you have enough medication to last over public holidays.
  • Keep hydrated and avoid drinking too much alcohol.
  • Wash your hands and dry thoroughly before handling any food.
  • Don't risk food poisoning by eating dodgy leftovers. If in doubt, throw it out.
  • Supervise children around pools, dams and at the beach.
  • Keep batteries out of reach of children.
  • Look out for friends, family and neighbours who might need help.