17 Jul 2009

Non-essential treatment on hold as swine flu spreads

7:26 pm on 17 July 2009

GPs say the spread of swine flu is forcing them to defer non- essential treatment.

Though some hospitals say the problem is no worse than it usually is in winter, hospitals in Auckland and Christchurch are delaying elective surgery because they're too busy coping with the virus.

Patients in Christchurch who were hoping for an operation have been told to stay at home, while Auckland Hospital had to postpone 12 elective operations last week.

The head of the Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners, Jonathan Fox, says GPs face similar problems and each practice is coping in its own way.

Dr Fox says a survey of GPs has found that 55% are coping with the outbreak, although it's taking its toll.

Eight percent are begging for support, and one practice says it's completely swamped, while 38% report no problems.