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Accident and Emergency Departments

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Accident and Emergency Departments

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Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris)

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Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris)

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Simon Harris

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Snippet Contents:

As Minister I, and my Department, are aware of the concerns that many nurses have in relation to the provision of services in our EDs and in the wider health services. I welcome the recent decision by the Irish Nursing and Midwifery Organisation (INMO) to defer their planned industrial action and ballot their members on the terms as negotiated at the WRC. I would also take this opportunity to acknowledge the crucial role nurses play on a daily basis in delivering our health services and providing patients with effective, compassionate and dignified care.
Recent data from the HSE indicates that in 2016 there was circa 5% increase in Emergency Department attendances nationally. In addition, early January 2017 saw continued significant pressure on our EDs due to high demand, increased incidence of flu mainly affecting older people, as well as on-going bed capacity constraints due to staff shortages.
As the Deputy may be aware, in September 2016, the HSE launched the ‘Winter Initiative Plan 2016-2017’ which provided €40 million of additional funding for winter preparedness and to assist hospitals to deal with increased demand. In January 2017, in response to significant pressures in our EDs in the early New Year, a series of enhanced measures were added to this Initiative.
So far, the Initiative has delivered 90 newly-opened additional beds. Also since the start of the initiative delayed discharges have reduced nationally from 638 in September to 517 on 28 February, freeing up hospitals beds to alleviate ED pressures. In addition, over 4,440 patients have availed of aids and appliances and circa 1000 additional homecare packages and 615 additional transitional care beds have been provided, enabling patients to be discharged from hospital sooner.
A key element of the Winter Initiative has been for the HSE to work with hospitals to develop key improvement actions and Winter Plans at each site aimed at preparing for the expected increased demand during the winter period. Learning from this Winter Initiative will be used to improve planning for future years and along with my Department, every week, I meet with senior officials from the HSE, including the Director General, to monitor progress on the Winter Initiative and ED Performance.