'Significant delays' expected in emergency departments over long weekend

The public is being asked to ‘consider all options’ before going to A&E so that those who need care most can be prioritised.

THE HSE HAS warned of “significant delays” in emergency departments around the country this Bank Holiday weekend.

While the health service is urging those who do require emergency care to attend A&E, the public is being asked to “consider all options” before going, so that those who need care most can be prioritised.

A HSE press statement said: “Emergency Departments (EDs) continue to be extremely busy with high numbers of patients attending who require admission. This means that patients who attend EDs for routine and non-urgent treatment will experience very long waiting times.

“It is really important that people who do require emergency care are encouraged to attend EDs where they will be prioritised. Please dial 999 or 112 for emergency care if there is concern for serious illness or injury.

“The HSE regrets that patients will face significant delays and asks everyone to help our staff at this time by considering other options for non-emergency care such as Injury Units, Out of Hours GP and pharmacies before attending an ED.”

Injury units treat injuries that are not life-threatening, such as broken bones, dislocations, sprains, wounds, scalds and minor burns.

Information on how to manage common illness and advice on when to get emergency help is available on the HSE website.

The HSE’s mychild page also has information on winter childhood illness and viruses such as bronchiolitis and RSV.

People have also been advised that, due to a number of Covid-19 outbreaks in hospitals around the country, visiting may be restricted.

Children’s EDs

Children’s Health Ireland (CHI) has said that it is currently seeing an average of 600 patients per day attending children’s hospitals in recent days. Normal numbers are around 300-400 per day.

CHI said that the vast majority of these children do not require medical review and parents are advised to consider caring for their child at home or explore other care pathways such as their GP or local pharmacy, if their child has milder symptoms and does not need emergency or urgent care.

Dr Ike Okafor, the Clinical Director of CHI, said: “Many Emergency Departments are currently overwhelmed but there has been a huge increase in the number of children presenting to CHI at Temple Street, Crumlin, Connolly and Tallaght.

“Wait times are extremely long and our staff are doing their best but they are exhausted and we don’t have the space to accommodate the numbers presenting.

“Our GP colleagues are also under pressure at the moment so wait times are a little longer to see GP’s. It can be daunting minding a sick child at home, but Under The Weather is a great resource and I’d encourage parents to source information and guidance here.”

Dr Louise Baker, Consultant Paediatrician in CHI, said: “One of the biggest increases we’re seeing is in children with fever. Fevers are very common in children and usually aren’t serious.

“Furthermore, many parents may not be aware that it is safe to manage children with mild viral illnesses at home using over the counter remedies such as paracetamol and ibuprofen.

“Most of these children do not require medical intervention and are discharged home once their parents with advice and reassurance. However, this takes time and resources away from critically unwell children. With departments already under huge pressure, we need to make sure that our services are available for those children who are seriously unwell.”

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