Press Release

Statement by Minister Varadkar on the ED situation

Minister for Health Leo Varadkar has today (Sunday) given an update on the ongoing situation in Emergency Departments.

“We are working very hard to manage the ongoing overcrowding situation in our Emergency Departments. Efforts started last year with advance funding for Fair Deal and new measures continue to be implemented. I want to thank all the staff in our health services, in hospitals and in the community who continue to provide safe, quality care in very challenging circumstances. I would now like to see the Emergency Department Taskforce Action Plan completed as soon as possible and put into operation without delay,” Minister Varadkar said.

The following measures are in place:

  • In January, 500 transitional care beds were funded in private nursing homes and a further 250 beds have beenfunded in February, to assist in the discharge of patients from acute hospitals.
  • 173 short stay public beds are being opened across the country for a three month period in response to potential additional admissions arising from the current flu virus. These include Cuan Ross in Dublin, with the first ten opening next week; Fairview in Dublin, Farranlea Road in Cork, Galway, and Ballinasloe. Twenty four private nursing home beds will come on stream in Drogheda from next week.
  • Arrangements are in place in the HSE to recruit frontline staff where it has been established that there is an urgent service requirement. Both the day and night shift nursing complements have increased in Beaumont, while 70 nursing posts have been agreed for the University of Limerick Hospital Group, 22 agency nurse conversions, 66 nursing posts, and additional HCA posts for Drogheda, and 39 posts for Naas.
  • Staff rosters are taking account of leave entitlements to ensure continuity of care.
  • The HSE is preparing a communications campaign, including local radio, to encourage more people to use Minor Injury Units and Local Injury Units, instead of Emergency Departments. This should help to relieve pressure on EDs and allow patients to get treated more quickly.
  • A further 65 beds will be opened on a phased basis from April in Mount Carmel, with plans for rehabilitation beds to be opened in Louth County Hospital later this month. Up to 300 overflow beds have been opened.
  • Community Intervention Teams have been introduced in Naas and in Drogheda. These have proved very effective at helping people to avoid hospital admission or to avail of early discharge, by managing their medical needs at home.
  • Other actions include the diversion of patients with private health insurance to private hospitals where consultants have admitting rights, and the transfer of patients from acute hospitals to hospitals which manage non-complex care when they have been medically stabilised.
  • Hospitals have been asked to ensure that arrangements are made to continue discharging patients throughout the weekend.
  • Work continues with primary and community care providers to deploy homecare resources to allow patients to be discharged from acute wards.
  • Teleconferences on the ED situation continue seven days a week.
  • Level 2 hospitals are being utilised where possible to take the pressure off emergency departments. This was particularly effective in UL and Louth Meath Groups.
  • All non-urgent elective cases continue to be deferred to retain the focus on Emergency Departments.