Press Release

Statement by Department of Health and Children on Emergency Departments

Emergency Departments (EDs) can experience particular increases in activity due to seasonal factors.

EDs are experiencing a very busy time at present with increased numbers of patients attending, including an increase in the number of patients suffering common seasonal illnesses, as well as those with Swine Flu.

Individual hospitals are managing the current situation through a range of responses to help ensure that those coming through the ED can be treated as quickly as possible. These include opening closed beds, cancellation and deferral of elective procedures and the use of day wards for ED activity. Hospitals will also take all possible steps to free up beds by carrying out further ward rounds and discharging in-patients where this is appropriate. They will also use other means of meeting the needs of emergency patients including acute medical assessment units and surgical assessment units.

In the case of Cork University Hospital, 23 beds which were closed to facilitate the construction of the new Acute Medical Unit will re-open next week as part of the Unit.

The HSE is encouraging the public to keep Emergency Departments for emergencies only. It is advising people to contact their GP or GP Out of Hours services in the first instance.

In a further planned initiative this year, the HSE is starting a programme aimed at streaming patients towards the type of care most suited to their needs, so as to reduce the direct demand on EDs. The National Clinical Programmes, including the Acute Medicine Programme, will concentrate on channelling patients to the right location, standardising the approach to their care and implementing proven solutions to reduce waiting lists and reduce trolley waits for patients.

Further information on health services in each area is available through the HSE Information Line, 1850 24 1850, and on the HSE website, www.hse.ie