Tuesday, 26 November 2019

Ceisteanna (110)

Alan Kelly


110. Deputy Alan Kelly asked the Minister for Health his plans to relieve the overcrowding in University Hospital Limerick for winter 2020. [48825/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

I acknowledge the difficulties facing the emergency departments in our hospitals.

According to HSE TrolleyGAR data, there was a 16% increase in patients counted waiting on trolleys at University Hospital Limerick ED this year up to the end of October 2019 compared to the same period last year. My Department has engaged extensively with the HSE this year to identify mitigating actions to bring down trolley numbers and waiting times in the ED in the face of growing demand.

The HSE Winter Plan was launched on Thursday 14 November in preparation for the anticipated increase in demand over the winter period. The Government allocated an additional €26m to fund the implementation of the Plan. Nine Winter Action Teams, each aligned to a Community Healthcare Organisation and associated acute hospitals and Hospital Groups, have prepared Integrated Winter Plans. These plans focus on demand management and reduction, staffing availability, timely access to the most appropriate care pathway for patients, and appropriate timely discharge from acute hospitals.

Each Action Team has set out a range of initiatives it will undertake within its area to implement the Plan. The Integrated Winter Plan for University Hospital Limerick will be delivered by Winter Action Team 3 (WAT 3). The initiatives for WAT 3 include:

- additional home support hours to facilitate early hospital to community transfers;

- additional aids and appliances to facilitate early hospital discharges and ED avoidance;

- mobile doctor service units to manage increase demand for home visits and facilitate ED avoidance;

- low level Domiciliary Rehab team in Limerick city to facilitate early discharge and ED avoidance;

- added Triage nursing support in Shannondoc to support ED avoidance;

- added Registrar in UHL to assist in addressing workflow and improve PET times;

- added Health Care Assistants support in UHL to provide staffing at ward level to support additional surge patients.

It should also be noted in relation to UHL a capital budget of €19.5 million has been approved for the provision of a modular 60-bed inpatient ward block at the Hospital, with funding of €10 million allocated in 2019. The HSE have advised that the enabling works are complete, and the main contractor is now commencing work. This important project will go some way towards addressing the acknowledged lack of bed capacity in the region

In addition to the immediate measures being undertaken in the Winter Plan the Government through the Sláintecare Strategy is addressing the issues of access to healthcare. The Sláintecare Action Plan for 2019 has a specific workstream on access and waiting lists. The Government is also increasing investment in health infrastructure and capacity in the system in line with Project Ireland 2040.

I am confident that together with the more immediate measures being undertaken under the Winter Plan and the strategic approach undertaken by the Government under Sláintecare that progress will be made in addressing the difficulties in the emergency departments.