HSE statement: update on restoration of services - March 4th 2018

The HSE National Crisis Management Team (NCMT) met again today, Sunday 4th March 2018, to continue planning for the restoration of health services in the aftermath of Storm Emma. Once again, the HSE is asking for patience, understanding and cooperation from members of the public as we seek to return our health services to normal levels as quickly as possible.

Director General of the HSE, Tony O’Brien, speaking after today’s meeting, said, “It has been a particularly difficult period for those involved in the delivery of health services over the past five days. However, the challenges are far from over and getting our services back to normal is now our main priority. To members of the public, I would ask for their forbearance as we try to restore all health services to normal levels. To our health service staff, I want to thank you for the extraordinary efforts you have put in to keep our services open and operational during the snowy weather and I look forward to your ongoing support over the next two weeks as we strive to return to normality.”

We are asking people to consider the following:

  • The National Ambulance Service continues to be under pressure and is prioritising emergency calls. Before phoning for an ambulance, we would urge people to consider why they are calling for this emergency service and, as roads are now improving, whether there are any alternative options available to them. If you do need to call an ambulance please know or have your Eircode to hand.
  • The HSE has cancelled all non-urgent surgeries planned for Monday 5th March. There is no need for patients to contact their hospital. Hospitals will be in touch over the coming weeks to reschedule their appointments.
  • Non urgent surgeries planned for Tuesday 6th March will be reviewed on Monday and we will make an announcement on Monday regarding the remainder of the week.
  • Outpatient appointments will recommence across all hospitals, with the exception of Wexford General, on Monday 5th March. If you are unable to attend your outpatient appointment please let your hospital know.
  • Day surgery will proceed in some of our acute hospitals from Monday. Patients should follow the instructions received with their appointment. In the event that any day surgery appointments are cancelled and need to be rescheduled, your hospital will contact you.
  • Due to the heavy snowfall and travel conditions it has not been possible to discharge patients who were ready to leave hospital. This has led to a large number of patients  being delayed in hospital. We hope patients and their families understand the reasons for this and we will endeavour to facilitate their discharge as soon as possible this week.
  • It is anticipated that over the coming week, as patients are gradually discharged, coupled with an expected increase in emergency department attendances, there will be delays in admissions with resultant increased waiting times in emergency departments. The HSE is asking people to consider whether they really need to go to an emergency department and if there is an alternative service they can avail of. For example, if your injury is minor in nature, where you might require stitches or where you have sprained your ankle, the HSE has a number of Minor Injury Units around the country.
  • Home care provision has also been affected by the heavy snowfall and we are asking people to consider checking in on elderly or vulnerable members of the community, and to make sure they have supplies of food, fuel, water and medicines while we return home care services to normal levels.
  • Our advice to older people is to stay indoors and to keep at least one room heated to 18 degrees. Wear multiple layers of clothes, have plenty of blankets and socks to keep you warm. Make sure you eat well and keep active and be mindful of risk of slips, trips and falls. If you have a personal alarm, make sure you wear it at all times. Read advice about falls prevention on winterready.ie.
  • The GP Out of Hours service is operational but is experiencing service pressures. We are asking people to consider if they can wait until the following morning to visit their own GP and to only use the Out of Hours service where really necessary.
  • We are advising the public to access our communications channels to get the most up to date information – www.hse.ie/weatherwarning and @HSELive #weatherwarning on Twitter for all the latest regarding HSE services.

We envisage that the full recovery will extend beyond next week as all our services try to get back to normal operations. For those patients with appointments we will provide further guidance as we assess the impact of the severe weather in the coming days. Further information will be made available through our communications channels www.hse.ie/weatherwarning and @HSELive.

Last updated on: 04 / 03 / 2018