Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Ceisteanna (154)

Finian McGrath

Ceist:

200 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children the action she will take to deal with the crisis at the accident and emergency departments in hospitals. [2043/11]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Minister for Health and Children)

The waiting times for patients attending emergency departments in many hospitals during the first week of January were unacceptable and I very much regret the delays that patients experienced. I met with the HSE last week to discuss the situation and to review its plans for ensuring that this situation does not recur. The HSE has assured me that it will take all possible steps to improve waiting times in emergency departments, so that all patients are assessed, treated and discharged or admitted without unnecessary delay.

The HSE has taken specific steps to cope with the increase in activity that is normally experienced at this time of year. These include curtailing elective surgery and opening beds which are normally closed for seasonal reasons. Other actions taken by hospitals include increasing the number of ward rounds to ensure that any patients who are ready to go home are discharged, with support as necessary from community-based services.

Hospitals are also ensuring that discharges are carried out early in the morning and over the weekend, to make beds available for patients being admitted through their emergency departments. In addition, the HSE is working to have senior clinical decision makers and diagnostic services speedily available for emergency department needs. The HSE has also provided for increased GP out-of-hours services through the expansion of the GP co-ops.

The HSE will continue to implement these measures as necessary under their Escalation Framework. The key to addressing the difficulties in emergency departments is to deal with the issue across the entire healthcare system. I have asked the HSE to ensure that minimising waiting times for patients in emergency departments, and the use of trolleys, is accorded a top priority.