Challenging Weekend Ahead for Emergency Departments and National Ambulance Service

Thursday, 14th March 2019 

The HSE today (Thursday 14th March 2019) is reminding everyone that St Patrick’s Day is often a particularly busy time for our health services, especially our Emergency Departments and our National Ambulance Service. This is especially the case when the holiday falls over a weekend period.

According to Dr Gerry McCarthy, Emergency Medicine Consultant and HSE Emergency Medicine Programme Lead, hospital EDs expect to be busy over the coming weekend, similar to last year. All patients who present to our Emergency Departments will be seen and treated, and as always the sickest and most urgent patients will be prioritised. However, patients presenting with non-urgent injuries should be aware that they may face longer waiting times depending on the number of patients attending EDs and the severity of patient illnesses. There are lots of sporting events and leisure activities on this weekend that tend to drive traffic towards the health services.

Dr McCarthy said they were “asking that people stay safe, and this is especially true when alcohol is involved. We see a lot of people presenting with injury or illness having had too much to drink and unfortunately that can put additional pressure on the system. Our wish is for everyone to enjoy the weekend and we hope you won’t have to come and see us.

“Unfortunately, as in previous years, we expect to see a significant number of patients presenting due to alcohol related injuries and illness. We know that most of these cases could have been avoided so we are asking everyone to be mindful and if they are drinking alcohol to be aware of the dangers and consequences of too much alcohol.”

St Patrick’s weekend is also a very busy time for the National Ambulance Service. Martin Dunne, Director of the National Ambulance Service (NAS), explained that “typically NAS will see an increase in callouts to alcohol and other related incidents.  We remind people that, just because you are brought to hospital in an ambulance, it does not mean you will be seen quicker at the ED. Whilst we fully appreciate that this is a very special celebratory weekend in our national calendar and we appreciate that everyone will want to enjoy their weekend to its fullest, however we would appeal to everyone to do so in a safe and enjoyable way.”

Dr Vida Hamilton, HSE Acute Hospitals National Clinical Advisor added: “Our message to all is, enjoy St Patrick’s weekend, with your friends and families. If you are drinking alcohol please consider the dangers to yourself and others of drinking too much. Never drink and drive and if you are on medication make sure you know the potential side effect of alcohol before you decide to have a drink. “


Enjoy the weekend.  Happy St Patrick’s Day!



Last updated on: 15 / 03 / 2019