Waikato Hospital has sent 180 patients from its emergency department to a private Hamilton clinic in the past two-and-a-half weeks in an attempt to manage overcrowding.
Of the 180 referrals made to the Anglesea Accident & Medical Clinic since September 1 - about half have been paid for the by Waikato District Health Board.
Waikato Hospital's Emergency Department has redirected both ACC patients and those with low complexity medical conditions to Anglesea clinic in an attempt to address overcrowding. Waikato Hospital has been full since last Monday.
About half the patients referred are covered by ACC, while the remaining patients - averaging about 45 a week - are funded out of the Waikato DHB's coffers.
Patients are given vouchers which they have to present to the clinic within 30 minutes of being issued them.
The DHB pays the full rate of $80 for each adult patient.
Medicine, Oncology, Emergency & Ambulatory Care director Alex Gordon said the ED had been redirecting appropriate patients to the Anglesea clinic for between three and four years as a cost effective way of managing the increasing demand.
Waikato DHB budgets between $150,000 and $200,000 for these referrals.
Gordon said some patients who visit the ED could have been more appropriately cared for by their GP.
"We are constantly reinforcing the message that EDs should be kept for emergencies, but we can never close our doors."