The hospital system is currently operating at close to full capacity. The number of patients attending Emergency Departments continues to increase year on year. HSE figures show that for the first ten months of 2019, the number of patients attending Naas Hospital decreased by 1%, however, the number of attendances of patients over the age of 75 increased by 6% compared to the same period in 2018. Similarly, admissions in Naas Hospital decreased by 2.1% while admissions of patients over the age of 75 increased by 3.5% compared to the same period last year. This reflects increasing demand for unscheduled care, especially by patients in the 75 years and over age group. The HSE has indicated that people in this age cohort attending hospital emergency departments are more likely to be admitted and generally stay twice as long as the general population.
The HSE Winter Plan was launched on Thursday 14 November in preparation for the anticipated increase in demand over the winter period. Th Government has allocated an additional 26m to fund 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.
I am confident that with the 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.