Press Release

Statement from Minister Harris

“Firstly thank you to everyone working in the health service today in difficult circumstances.

I want them and our patients to know that no effort or resource is being spared to improve this situation.

We are entering a difficult few weeks and our health services are experiencing extra pressure because of the flu season.

Traditionally these weeks are always the busiest, and when you couple that with the current strain of flu and our growing and aging population these are very busy times for our hospitals.

Despite rising demand today’s HSE trolleygar figures show the lowest trolley numbers for the first Tuesday in January in 3 years. It is important to say that the figure is still very high and not acceptable, but it is a modest improvement on last year and the year before.

All of those who work in our hospitals and communities, along with the HSE and my Department will continue to work to meet the increased demand, introducing a number of exceptional measures. We will also continue to increase bed capacity and drive the reform our health service needs.

I am in regular contact with the HSE in relation to the measures being taken across the country.

The HSE today advised me that they are taking a number of escalation actions across the Acute Hospitals. These measures include:

• Movement of patients between hospitals to make best use of capacity across Hospital Groups;
• Increasing consultant rounds to allow people home and to free up space;
• Increasing access to home care and transitional care;
• Extending access to diagnostics and assessment units;
• Improving patient flows and operational process to reduce patient waiting times

We will pursue longer term priorities in 2018. I am progressing the bed capacity review, the slaintecare implementation plan, the home care scheme, nurse recruitment and investment in primary care, plus working with GPs on a sustainable future. These are my priorities for 2018 and they will make a real difference.

I would encourage everyone to follow HSE advice in the coming days and take steps to prevent the spread of the flu. I would also remind people that it is not too late to get the flu vaccine.”