Health | Emergency management team to deal with overcrowding and hospital accident and emergency departments
To ask the Minister for Health the extent to which he hopes to set up an emergency management team to deal with overcrowding and hospital accident and emergency departments, with particular reference to ensuring that the highest possible standards prevail when dealing with the inflow of patients by facilitating their access to emergency treatment; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
We are experiencing a very challenging winter, and our EDs are experiencing high levels of attendances and congestion.
My officials and I continue to meet and engage regularly with HSE senior leadership on the ED situation, the on-going implementation of the Winter Plan and to ensure that all that can be done is being done to improve access for patients and support healthcare workers.
The Government has provided significant resources to the HSE over the past three years to mitigate the additional pressure on emergency departments throughout the winter period.
This Winter Plan 2022/23 builds on last year’s winter initiatives and aims to deliver additional acute and community bed capacity, increase staffing, and expand integrated care pathways for older people to avoid unnecessary hospital admissions and ensure timely discharge from acute hospitals. Key national initiatives such as extended local injury unit hours, expanded GP out-of-hours services, and enhanced GP access to diagnostic services will help more patients to access care without the need to attend an ED. The Winter Plan contains provision for the recruitment of an additional 608 whole-time-equivalent (WTE) staff across the health system. This includes the recruitment of an additional 51 WTE Emergency Medicine Consultants for EDs, and a further 20 WTE Registrars to support these ED consultant posts.
The HSE is also developing a three-year unscheduled care improvement programme to deliver sustainable improvements to unscheduled care, most of which currently occurs in the ED. A key priority of my Department is the improvement of ED Patient Experience Times (PET) and reform of service delivery across the entire health system is a key part of achieving this. My Department is working closely with the HSE on developing this plan, which will be published in due course.
In relation to the particular query raised regarding an emergency management team, as this is a service matter, I have asked the Health Service Executive to respond to the deputy directly, as soon as possible.
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