HSE Emergency Departments experiencing high level of presentations and demands on services this bank holiday weekend

  • Winter respiratory viruses still circulating at high levels despite passing the peak

A number of hospitals are experiencing very high levels of activity due to ongoing high illness rates related to winter viruses. As of 8am today (Monday, 05th February 2024) there were 272 patients on trolleys. At midnight there were 352 people awaiting discharge and a number of sites are extremely busy. The HSE is asking the public to consider all care options this February (Féile Bríde) Bank Holiday Weekend and would like the public to be aware of other services that might be helpful, including their GPs, pharmacists and GP out of hours services before presenting at Emergency Departments (EDs).

As always, people who do require emergency care are encouraged to attend EDs where they will be prioritised. When there is a large volume of ED attendances, patients are prioritised in terms of clinical need and wait times for non-urgent care can be lengthy. 

According to Damien McCallion, the HSE’s Chief Operations Officer: “Many of our Emergency Departments are extremely busy this weekend. While we have seen a dip in numbers of COVID 19 and ‘flu from the January peak, there are still high levels of respiratory illness circulating and impacting our hospitals. Those who believe they may be seriously ill and require emergency care should come to hospital, but we would ask others who are not seriously ill, to consider seeking support from pharmacists, GPs, GP Out of Hours Services and Injury Units”.

He added “A number of surge measures have been put in place as part of the HSE Urgent and Emergency Care Plan to reduce the number of patients waiting on trolleys for an acute bed and reduce the number of patients over the age of 75 waiting in emergency departments after a decision has been made to admit them for ongoing care and treatment.”

We have seen significant improvements in 2024 versus 2023. While we have seen increased attendances of close to 15%, we've seen some improvements in the number of patients delayed in hospitals, the average trolleys every week, and also the statistics for older people where we put a particular focus on to ensure that those patients over 75 were admitted or discharged within 24 hours. We do not want to be complacent and would like to take every opportunity to ensure our EDs treat those who need emergency care as quickly and safely as possible.”

Other options available if you are feeling unwell or are injured are:

Pharmacies:

You can visit your local pharmacy if you feel unwell. Pharmacists are qualified healthcare professionals. They can give you medicines you can buy without a prescription, medicines you have a prescription for, advice on minor illnesses, and can tell you if you need to see a GP.

GPs and GP Out-of-Hours Services:

GPs are running additional clinics during this time of high pressure. If you urgently need to see a GP outside their clinic hours, you can contact your local GP out-of-hours service.

Injury Units:

Injury units treat injuries that are not life-threatening. For example, broken bones, dislocations and burns. You do not need an appointment. There are 11 HSE Injury Unit Locations, you can find one close to you on the HSE website: www2.hse.ie/services/injury-units/.

The HSE appreciates the work of GPs and for their continuing support as they run additional clinics during this time of high pressure. Hospitals have also partnered with private hospitals to access additional beds, and this has added 145 beds to those available nationally for urgent or emergency admissions.

The HSE would like to thank all health service staff for their commitment to working through an extremely difficult and pressured period, including covering for staff who may be unwell.

Last updated on: 06 / 02 / 2024