Acute care

Acute or unplanned care is loosely defined as any urgent health care that a person receives for an illness or injury. Acute care is usually time-sensitive and can result in death or long-term disability if the person does not receive the care they need in a timely manner.

People generally manage their own health through self-diagnosis and care, supported by people around them. However, when acute care is required the goal is that people are able to access the most appropriate care, when and where they need it.

This could be at a general practice or other primary health care provider, diagnostics or mobile services or home support services. It can also be in hospitals and will often be in emergency departments in the first instance.

As in other developed countries, the demands on New Zealand’s acute care services are growing, due in part to our growing and ageing population and the proliferation of long-term conditions like cardiovascular disease and diabetes. In addition, our workforce will continue to be stretched as many GPs and nurses will retire over the next 10 years.

As the demands on our acute care system are projected to increase even further over the next 10 years it is important that acute care services identify different ways of working so that they can manage these demands effectively.

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