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Accident and Emergency Departments Waiting Times

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Accident and Emergency Departments Waiting Times

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Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris)

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Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris)

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Snippet Contents:

The number of patients presenting at our Emergency Departments has been 6% higher than the equivalent period last year. Notwithstanding this increase in demand, the number of patients waiting on trolleys in EDs has decreased; for Q1-2, 2016, we have seen a reduction of just over 7% in numbers of patients waiting on trolleys, in comparison with 2015.
The increased pressure on our hospital system results in part from demographics; preliminary results from Census 2016 indicate population increases of 3.7% since 2011. Census 2016 results have not yet available in terms of age profile. However, from 2002 - 2011, the cohort of the population aged over 65 grew by 23% and is projected to rise further. Adults over 65 years of age (12% of the population) use 53% of hospital in-patient care.
The HSE has therefore estimated the rate of increase in demand at approximately 3% per annum; however, recent 2016 hospital attendance reports would indicate that 3% is at the lower end of the scale. The Minister for Health met with the HSE National Director for Acute Hospitals on Friday, 15th July, regarding the recent rise in numbers of patients on trolleys and proposed measures to address trolley numbers. It was agreed that the HSE Special Delivery Unit will continue to maintain a strong focus on ensuring that hospitals improve performance in managing ED pressures, as well as on expanding care pathways for frail elderly people who present in EDs.
Ongoing efforts to address ED overcrowding include the development of more Primary Care Centres and widening the range of services that primary care can offer and expansion of Community Intervention Teams. Hospital capacity has recently been increased by opening or reopening 374 additional beds and employing more than 750 nurses and almost 80 consultants; reducing delayed discharges from hospitals; and improving how hospitals manage surges in demand for emergency care. Funding of €40 million has been provided for a Winter Initiative, which will provide for expanded services over the next two winters.
General measures to reduce hospital overcrowding include commitments to progress new ED facilities for University Hospital Galway and Beaumont Hospital, Dublin. These are in addition to capacity expansions already underway in University Hospital Galway and Our Lady Of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda, and new ED facilities which have already opened at the Mater Hospital in Dublin, in Wexford General Hospital and St. Luke’s Hospital Kilkenny.