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A & E

Introducing This Page

Patients come to us referred from their General Practitioner, Healthline, via the St John Ambulance service or in the event of an emergency, directly.
This webpage is designed to give you information about our Emergency Department and to seek your help in making emergency care available to the people of the community.

A & E Services Overview

What is the Emergency Department all about?

Support and Care

We are a friendly A & E Department that consists of Doctors and Nurses who work closely together in a supportive environment.

Who Covers When?

We have Medical Officer cover from 8:00 am to 10:00 pm, then House Surgeons cover overnight.

Senior Medical Officer Cover is available on an on-call basis either onsite or through Christchurch/Blenheim (e.g. Orthopaedics, Paediatrics).

Patients we Care for

The Emergency Department is here to provide care to patients with serious or life threatening illnesses that require urgent attention. This may include resuscitation, diagnostic testing, stabilisation or possibly admission to hospital. These patients have conditions such as road traffic trauma, heart attacks, haemorrhage, burns, head injuries, acute abdominal pain, fractures, eye injuries, respiratory diseases (eg asthma), acute psychiatric or paediatric problems.

The Emergency Department is NOT intended as a facility to be used for long standing or minor illnesses which can be treated at your General Practitioner's rooms. Included in this group are requests for physical checkups, medical certificates or prescriptions, colds, sore throats, or removal of stitches.

For most follow up treatment you will be referred to your family doctor. Occasionally patients with severe wounds are asked to return to see the Emergency Department doctor for review.

What do we do?

During any 24-hour period we see approximately 30-40 patients with a wide variety of emergencies.

Patients are assessed and treated by the nurses and doctors of the Emergency Department and then may be discharged or referred to a specialist medical department in this or another hospital or may require transfer to a Tertiary Hospital such as Christchurch for orthopaedic or paediatric care. There is a specialist team from Canterbury who operate an air retrieval service for emergencies.

The Emergency Department also has a major role in the training of student nurses, doctors and specialists. Every patient is seen and treated by a qualified doctor or senior emergency nurse who may be accompanied by students. You may be asked if a training doctor or nurse can observe or assist with your treatment.

How can you help?

  • Ensure that you and your family are known to a family doctor
  • Call your family doctor if you have a problem
  • Follow the doctor's orders when placed on medication. Take a full course of medications in order to prevent a recurrence of symptoms
  • Know the names, dosages and purpose of your medications. If they are numerous, keep a written record of them or bring them to hospital if you need to come to the Emergency Department, and please tell us if you have an allergy to any medicine
  • Keep your children's immunisations up to date
  • If you have a non-urgent ongoing medical condition you may find it more convenient to see your own General Practitioner or Phone Healthline - 0800 611 116

How to find A & E

The A & E entrance is situated in Greymouth at Greymouth Hospital (Grey Base Hospital), High Street.


If you come from the town centre

Drive past the Mobil Service Station on the right at the end of High St, turn right at the next intersection, turn left, drive over the railway overbridge there and past the laundry services building on your left. You should now be able to clearly see the Emergency Department to the left of the main entrance of the hospital (See purple cross on image below).
Simply park your car somewhere handy and return to that spot. Go up the steps on the left as you approach the hospital's main entrance and you have arrived.

Don't forget to report at the Emergency Department reception.

On Your Arrival

When you arrive in the Emergency Department you will be greeted by the Triage Nurse. The Triage Nurse is a senior registered nurse who sees all patients and assesses their condition. The Triage Nurse will determine the seriousness of your condition and the urgency with which you must be seen. It is her/his responsibility to see that patients with life threatening or serious medical conditions are seen first.

You or a relative will be directed to a receptionist who will ask for the patient's details (name, address, age, etc.). Please be patient and give clear answers. This registration process helps us to identify all patients in the department, ensure they are seen as promptly as possible, track their whereabouts within the hospital and obtain the correct medical records and complete ACC forms.

The Triage Nurse and Staff Nurses will see that you and your family are informed of what is happening during the time you are in the Emergency Department. Any questions you may have while waiting can be directed to the Triage Nurse, who periodically observes patients in the waiting room and re-triages when necessary.


Triage Explained

Why is there a waiting period?

Critically ill or injured patients will always be seen first regardless of the order in which they arrive to the Emergency Department. Patients with life or limb threatening conditions or in severe pain will be given priority. This means that patients with less urgent or chronic conditions will have to wait to be seen.

The Triage Nurse uses internationally accepted criteria to determine the priority for patients to be seen. This may explain why you must sometimes wait before being seen by a doctor.

Patients arrive at the Emergency Department via two entrances. Critically ill patients usually arrive at the ambulance entrance and are moved directly to the resuscitation areas. The waiting room can sometimes appear misleadingly quiet when the rest of the department is full of critically ill patients. You may see people that arrived after you being taken first. This is because they have been prioritised this way by the Triage Nurse.

The Triage categories are:

Resuscitation - Highest priority. Seen by doctor immediately. Life in danger if not treated within seconds.

Emergency - Second priority. Should be seen within 10 minutes or serious complications may develop.

Urgent - Should be seen within 30 minutes. This group includes patients in severe pain who require urgent pain relief.

Semi-Urgent - Should be seen within 60 minutes.

Non-Urgent - Low priority. Low or no threat to life. A delay will not worsen the patient's condition

We strive to achieve the waiting times set out above, but...

because triage 1 and 2 are high priority, the wait for patients triaged 3, 4 and 5 may exceed these times. This happens at times when there are large influxes of patients or we have several very ill patients at the same time. We are usually very busy in winter and the weekends.

The nursing and medical assessment of each patient is thorough and detailed. There will however be periods of waiting after the doctor has seen you. Tests such as blood tests, x-rays and special scans may be needed before treatment can be started. Each of these test may take some time to complete but are usually initiated promptly to prevent unnecessary delay.

Patients may need to wait to be seen by a specialist who may not be immediately available due to commitments in other wards or operating rooms.

Additional Information

Communication with other Health Professionals

The Emergency Department functions independently of the rest of the hospital but has very close relationships with all other departments.

The staff work closely with all relevant health professionals to ensure you receive the best care.

It is normal practice for our department to supply information to your family doctor. Of course if you would prefer this did not happen, please make our staff aware immediately.


Violent behaviour (verbal or physical) that threatens other patients or staff will not be tolerated. Police are called if there is any threat to patient or staff safety.

The A&E emergency entrance door is for ambulance and immobile patients only.

Feedback and Quality Improvement

If you have concerns about the care you have received in the Emergency Department please talk to your nurse or contact us in writing. Your suggestions will enable us to improve our service. Equally, we would be keen to hear if you were happy with the service we provide.

Visit our Feedback page


If you have concerns about this, or other information, please contact:

  • Your doctor

  • Emergency Department
    Phone (03) 7680 499 Extn. 2624

  • Hospital Telephone Numbers
    Grey Hospital Phone (03) 768 0499
    Buller Hospital Phone (03) 789 7399
    Reefton Hospital Phone (03) 732 8805