The Emergency Department Taskforce Implementation Group has met on a regular basis during 2015 and into 2016, and recently met on the 18th April 2016. The Group has been overseeing initiatives to address ED overcrowding and ED performance, particularly over this peak winter period.
Measures implemented included optimising discharges in advance of the weekends, strengthening the senior decision making presence at wards and in Emergency Departments, increased diagnostics at the weekends and securing staff to open overflow areas. As a result of these measures, the ED performance over the Easter period was favourable compared with 2015.
During 2015, additional funding of €117 million was provided to the HSE to relieve ED overcrowding pressures. This funding has supported initiatives to expand hospital capacity with 364 additional beds opened or reopened, reduce the number of hospital attendances by expanding community intervention team services and increasing the availability of community hospitals, and support timely patient discharge from hospital by reducing the wait time for Fair Deal funding to no more than 4 weeks, providing additional transitional care places, public community beds and home care packages.
Since the beginning of 2016, the HSE has reported an increase in emergency department (ED) activity in comparison with the same period last year. Overall, there has been an increase of 6.9% in patient attendances. Despite sustained increase in attendances, the total year to date number of patients waiting on trolleys at 8am each morning shows a marginal increase of 1%.
This year, the HSE is focusing on a number of key activities to manage waiting lists more effectively, thereby improving patient waiting times. These include:
- ensuring that chronological scheduling is adhered to;
- putting in place administrative and clinical validation procedures to ensure that patients are available for treatment;
- relocating high-volume low complexity surgeries to smaller hospitals; and
- designating an improvement lead for each hospital group, to provide support in meeting national targets for appointments and treatment.