IMO: €30m HSE winter plan will only provide 'temporary relief' for some patients

Peadar Gilligan

The HSE's €30m winter plan will only provide “a temporary relief” for some patients, the Irish Medical Organisation claims.

The IMO is concerned that short-term reactive planning is harming long-term patient care.

“The HSE's Winter Plan is too little, too late,” said IMP president, Dr Peadar Gilligan.

As usual, he said, the plan ignores key issues and offered little in the way of meaningful solutions.

Dr Gilligan said the IMO has a plan that would achieve a six-hour emergency department target time but the HSE needs to take action now.

“In the interests of patient safety, 95% of patients should not wait longer than six hours from arrival at the ED until admission to a ward bed or discharge home,” said Dr Gilligan.

HSE deputy director of general operations, Anne O'Connor, admitted that hospitals are very busy already.

Ms O'Connor said the plan is designed to reduce the number of people in emergency departments and reduce the number of admissions.

From Monday, December 17 to Sunday, January 13 “enhanced measures” will be targeted at “nine sites of concern”.

The nine sites include University Hospital Limerick, Cork University Hospital and University Hospital Waterford.

Over the period of "focused action," the hospitals will be intensely monitored. Arrangements have been made to ensure that diagnostic services can remain open where needed.

Ms O'Connor said the flu vaccine is a very good match for the virus that doctors are seeing in the community.

The type of flu circulating in the community is influenza A (H1N1) – flu that will have an impact on younger people rather than on the elderly.

A HSE information campaign will highlight ED alternatives to reduce hospital overcrowding.

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