THE HSE has issued public advice on the best way to access appropriate health services, at one of the busiest times of the year.
Emergency wards around the country are still experiencing high volumes as people seek treatment for ailments or injuries picked up during the Christmas break, while a particularly high presence of the winter vomiting bug has led to restrictions on hospital visits across the country.
The HSE said the vomiting bug, combined with other respiratory illnesses that circulate at this time of year, would mean increased numbers of people attending emergency departments.
This can pose a greater risk to the health of patients, however, due to the possibility of being exposed to colds, flu or infections that might be carried by others in busy hospital wards.
“This time of the year is traditionally a very busy period for the health services and to ensure that people get seen as quickly as possible, in the most appropriate setting for their needs, the HSE is encouraging people to be aware of the health services available in their locality,” said emergency medicine consultant Mark Doyle.
Doyle said many people often thought of an emergency department as the first port of call for urgent medical treatment, but that in many cases the assistance of a GP’s out-of-hours service – or even a pharmacy – could offer more appropriate and immediate advice.
Homes are advised to keep a first aid kit at home, which can be used to relieve pain or trauma after an accident, and to contact a doctor, pharmacy or out-of-hours GP if advice was needed during opening hours.
“Emergency Departments treat seriously ill and injured patients and should be kept for emergencies only. As soon as somebody arrives at an Emergency Department they are clinically prioritised using an internationally recognised triage system,” the HSE advised.