Christmas Day admissions to Canberra hospitals reach six-year high

The number of people presenting to ACT hospitals at Christmas has been increasing by almost 7 per cent a year. Photo: Karleen MinneyMore people are spending their Christmas Day in Canberra’s emergency departments, with patient numbers rising to their highest levels since 2011.

Figures from ACT Health show there’s been a 14 per cent increase in the number of admissions to emergency rooms at both Canberra and Calvary hospitalson Christmas Day in the past five years alone.

Last year there were 338 presentations to Canberraemergency departmentson December 25, which was the highest figure in six years.

Despite the large number of people in hospital on Christmas Day in 2016compared to previous years, the number of admissions was still down on the average of 384 people per day during the past calendar year.

Dr David Lamond said road trauma will be one of the leading causes of admissions over the Christmas break. Photo: Karleen Minney

Canberra Hospital’s emergency department deputy-director Sam Scanlan said the staff levels at the hospital wouldremain the same over the Christmas period.

“We are fully prepared, but prefer not to meet you in the Canberra Hospital ED these Christmas holidays,” he said.

“Enjoy the festive period, be safe on our roads and be safe with new toys, especially the dads out there who tend to become big kids at this time of year.”

While health data doesn’t reveal the cause of injuries presented to the hospital, figures show abdominal pain was the leading diagnosis of Christmas Day patients.

Abdominal pain diagnoses made up 13 cases last Christmas in emergency, followed by viral infections with 11 and unspecified chest pain with seven.

“The remaining 307 diagnoses were of a diverse nature that are unable to be grouped,” an ACT Health spokesman said.

“These diagnosis ranged from insect bites, lower back pain, rash and angina.”

Since 2012, patient admissions on Christmas Day have increased on average by 6.8 per cent each year.

There were 296 people in Canberra emergency rooms on Christmas Day in 2012, rising to 306 the following year.

After a slight drop to 304 in 2014, it continued to increase in 2015 to 329, before reaching 338 in 2016.

Despite the record patient numbers in 2016 across all ACT hospitals, Canberra Hospital had a slight drop last year in Christmas patients from 193 in 2015, to 191.

Last year was the busiest Christmas Day for staff at Calvary Hospital with 147 patients presenting.

Canberra Hospital emergency staff specialist David Lamond said one of the more common incidents doctors sawover Christmas wasinjuries from car accidents.

“Like most Christmas holiday periods, we’re going to be seeing some major road disasters in terms of road trauma, and that would be devastating for the family involved,” Dr Lamond said.

“Something like that always has a major impact on people.”

The road-safety warning from doctors comes after a13-year-old boy was injured in a horrific crash on the Kings Highway earlier this week.

Thomas ‘TJ’ Campagna was airlifted to hospital for emergency surgery and has been unable to walk since the incident.

The teenager was travelling with his mother at the time when another driver, allegedly under the influence of ice, drove onto the wrong side of the road.

Canberra Times