Emergency departments

Emergency departments (EDs) are an important component of New Zealand’s health care system, treating people who have a serious illness or injury that requires urgent attention. There are close to 1 million ED attendances in New Zealand every year.

This section provides information about visits to emergency departments, and the Shorter Stays in Emergency Departments Health Target which is focused on improving acute patient flow.

One of six national Health Targets since 1 July 2009, Shorter Stays in Emergency Departments is defined as '95 percent of patients will be admitted, discharged or transferred from an Emergency Department within six hours'. The aim of the target is to improve the quality and timeliness of care New Zealanders receive when they attend an ED by eliminating waste and delays across the whole health system from primary care to hospital admission through to discharge.

Ministry of Health Shorter Stays in ED team

A team has been established within the Ministry of Health to support district health boards to achieve the Shorter Stays in Emergency Departments Health Target and improve the effectiveness, efficiency and quality of acute services. The team is led by the National Clinical Director of ED Services and the Shorter Stays in ED Target Champion, Prof Mike Ardagh.

In this section

  • Emergency departments (EDs) treat people who have a serious illness or injury that requires urgent attention. Patients may be referred to an ED by their doctor/GP, the ambulance service or they may refer themselves. Read more
  • Emergency departments (EDs) have to manage fluctuating numbers of patients with a wide range of illnesses or injuries of differing degrees of seriousness. The assessment of patients on arrival to decide how urgent their illness or injury is and how soon treatment is required is called triaging. Read more
  • Guidance for New Zealand emergency departments regarding the interface with primary health care. Read more