Associate Prof George Thomson, Louise Delany, Prof Nick Wilson
While it is possible that New Zealand can use intense public health controls to eradicate COVID-19 from the country – we must also plan for other scenarios where thousands of New Zealanders are sick – including many urgently hospitalised.1 Better resilience for our health system in the face of COVID-19 must include reducing current avoidable pressures that are not COVID-related. Emergency policies should include the reduction of preventable injuries that currently take a toll on hospital and health resources. These include those caused by alcohol, avoidable home accidents and road crashes. Increased alcohol prices, reduced sales hours, and reduced or banned advertising of alcohol would make significant and valuable differences for hospital staff, medical centres and patients. Even with reduced private road traffic, two immediate policies to help are (1) enhanced enforcement of existing alcohol limits for driving and (2) larger speed camera fines. Mass media campaigns by ACC on preventable home accidents would also help.