HSE winter plan 'a complete joke', says consultant

HSE winter plan 'a complete joke', says consultant

Emergency medicine consultant Fergal Hickey has described escalating trolley numbers as a failure in planning by the HSE and the Department of Health.

Dr Hickey, who is communications officer for the Irish Association of Emergency Medicine, warned that trolley numbers could reach 1,000 patients one day soon.

Earlier this month trolley numbers reached a record high of 679.

“This is not the way this should be. Unfortunately it has become typical.

"This is a failure of planning by the HSE and the Department of Health to provide adequate beds for the population.”

Dr Hickey also warned that based on the Australian flu season just passed, which was the worse since 1980, Ireland could be facing numerous flu deaths this winter.

This is really worrying. This has been a problem, we keep setting new records for crowding, records that we don’t want.

Unfortunately increased trolley numbers are now the norm, he added with emergency departments acting as warehouses for admitted patients while ambulances outside contain more patients awaiting treatment.

Dr Hickey said it was a myth that patients who should have gone to see their GP are blocking up emergency departments.

People on trolleys are people who have been seen and need to be admitted and need a hospital bed.

He described the HSE’s ‘winter plan’ as “a complete joke”.

The HSE is missing the point that there are not enough acute beds, he said.

The inadequate provision is what is killing services in emergency departments and it will kill patients too.

Community services are failing to provide adequate services for home care to allow patients home and free up acute beds, he said.

Dr Hickey queried why a financial penalty had not been imposed on community services for failing to provide a necessary service.

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