The Minister for Health has said the health service is taking a “new and innovative approach” to tackling hospital overcrowding this winter.
The HSE published its €30m Winter Plan this afternoon.
The plan includes a four week period of focused action at nine facilities that have experienced the heaviest overcrowding in the past.
The sites will be subject to “intense monitoring” over the four weeks – with a dedicated Winter Action Team assigned to each site.
Funding has also been set aside for enhanced measures to support all nine sites – including elderly patient supports, extended diagnostics, extended assessment units, more senior staff and new “Winter Ready Services’ for at risk patients.
Minister Harris said the “new and innovative approach” builds on the experience of previous winters and the “success in handling major events this year.”
“Importantly the HSE plan optimises the use of existing resources and provides an alternative for patients to the Emergency Department including extended opening hours and expanded services at local injury units, services, minor injury units and key Primary Care Centres,” he said.
The nine sites are:
- Mater Misericordiae University Hospital & CHO 9
- Vincent’s University Hospital & CHO 6
- Tallaght University Hospital & CHO 7
- Naas General Hospital and CHO 7
- Midland Regional Hospital Tullamore and CHO 8
- Galway University Hospital and CHO West / CHO 2
- University Hospital Limerick and CHO MidWest / CHO 3
- Cork University Hospital and Cork Kerry Community Healthcare / CHO 4
He said hospital overcrowding causes significant distress to staff, patients and their families.
He said the Winter Plan as a whole “represents a system wide response to this challenge across the health service. It will be led at national and local level by integrated teams representing community and hospital services.”
The plan also seeks to increase over all bed capacity early next year – with 78 new beds due to open.
Minister Harris said €10m has been made available to increase capacity.
Meanwhile €16m has been available to provide an extra 550 home care packages over the winter period.
The packages are aimed at allowing patients to return home with the appropriate supports, thus opening up increased bed capacity in acute hospitals.