Health Minister Signs ED Congestion Escalation Directive

The Health Minister Leo Varadkar has signed an ED Congestion Escalation Directive to make sure progress made on tackling overcrowding in ER departments is "sustained and deepened".

The Protocol was also signed by The Director General of the HSE Tony O'Brien and the Director of Acute Hospital Services Liam Woods.

The deal for acute hospitals requires them to implement their Escalation plan whenever their Emergency Department experiences overcrowding.

Hospitals which do not comply to this will be subject to penalties with the resources re-allocated.

The deal follows an improvement in trolley numbers in recent weeks compared to the same period last year.

The Directive is designed to ensure that as much further progress is made in the weeks and months ahead in terms of managing ED overcrowding.

Minister Varadkar said: "The most recent numbers from the INMO and SDU indicate that the number of people on trollies is lower for November 2015 than November 2014. This represents a marked improvement from the summer when the situation was between 20% and 40% worse than summer 2014.

"On any given weekday, the number of patients on trollies peaks around 300, falling to 150 by the evening. While still not good enough, this is a far cry from the 500-600 we witnessed in January.

"The situation has eased due to the measures taken to date including increased staffing, more beds in hospitals, nursing homes and community facilities, more home helps and home care packages to facilitate discharge, and more community intervention teams, day hospital capacity and acute medical assessment units, to allow people to avoid having to go to the Emergency Department at all. Attendances are down about 1% this year.

"Nonetheless, there are still far too many people waiting too long in our Emergency Departments, so further measures now need to be taken to escalate this response to ensure that the progress is sustained."


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