We use strictly necessary cookies to make our site work. We would also like to set optional cookies (analytical, functional and YouTube) to enhance and improve our service. You can opt-out of these cookies. By clicking “Accept All Cookies” you can agree to the use of all cookies.

Cookies Statement and Privacy Statement

HSE publishes Winter Initiative Plan for Winter 2016/2017

Friday 9th September 2016

-          950 additional  Home Care Packages

-          58 additional  Transitional Care beds

-          Expansion of Community Intervention Teams to benefit 6,643 additional patients

-          55 additional  acute beds (builds on the 300 beds opened in 2015)

-Increased funding for Aids & Appliances to support patient discharge & hospital avoidance


The HSE has today, Friday 9th September 2016, published its Winter Initiative Plan 2016/2017. The aim of the plan is to provide a focus on specific measures required to address the anticipated surge in health service activity in hospitals and in the community normally associated with this time of year. The Winter Initiative Plan will begin to take effect from late October/early November 2016.

One of the key objectives of this year’s plan is to reduce the numbers of people waiting to be discharged from hospitals by providing the specific supports and pathways to allow patients to move home or to an alternative suitable community setting which meets their needs. Achieving this objective will free up beds in the acute hospital system which, in turn, will lead to less overcrowding in Emergency Departments.

The plan contains a number of key measures aimed at hospital avoidance, timely access, and hospital discharge. It will be implemented through a specific and detailed planning process involving all hospitals and Community Healthcare Organisations (CHOs) across the country.

Commenting on the publication of the Plan, Tony O’Brien, Director General of the HSE said, “These carefully considered targeted measures are designed to achieve specific improvements in patient experience and levels of overcrowding in our hospitals’ emergency departments in the face of sustained increases in ED attendances.”

Some of the key outcomes to be achieved through the implementation of this plan include a reduction in Delayed Discharges and in Patient Experience Times in Emergency Departments.

To achieve these outcomes the following measures are being put in place:

  • Provision of an additional 950 Home Care Packages targeting 10 specific hospitals, (Our Lady of Lourdes, Mullingar, CUH, STGH, UHW, UHL, UHG, Tallaght, & St. James’s Hospital).
  • Additional 58 Transitional Care bed approvals weekly available to all acute hospitals, (in addition to the funded level of service of 109 per week).
  • Expansion of Community Intervention Team (CIT) services across 4 sites to support 5 acute hospitals. (Beaumont, Mater, OLOL, GUH, STGH), to benefit 6,643 additional patients.
  • An additional 55 acute beds (on top of the additional 300 beds provided in 2015 and which remain open) are being provided in the Midland Regional Hospital in Tullamore, Beaumont Hospital, Naas General Hospital, University Hospital Waterford and in the Midland Regional Hospital in Mullingar. In addition, 18 step down beds are being provided for in the Mercy University Hospital, Cork.
  • Expansion of minor Injury services in Dublin to provide for an additional 100 patients each week, with patients being seen in a more timely way, to include a Saturday service.
  • Increased funding for Aids & Appliances to support discharge of patients from hospitals as well as facilitating hospital avoidance (3,070 people to benefit).
  • Targeted waiting list programme for orthopaedics, spinal and scoliosis to be implemented in designated sites by year end.
  • Increased focus on Flu vaccination for the community at large and health care staff.

These combined measures, along with improved processes, will assist in delivering on the outcomes of the Initiatives. Following on from the 24 Acute Hospital site visits undertaken by the Special Delivery Unit, over the period January to July 2016, key improvement actions have been issued to individual hospitals, in the following areas:

  • Management of older persons care pathways
  • Improvement in non-admitted PET (Patient Experience Time) Targets
  • Improve the management of patients with chronic diseases.
  • Extension of 7 day discharging - criteria led discharge planning


Hospital Groups and CHOs are now required to provide Winter plans for 2016/2017, for validation by the end of September. These plans will detail both management and clinical governance arrangements across each hospital and community for the duration of the Winter period including metrics on service provision and supports, and escalation measures.

The Special Delivery Unit will monitor the implementation of the plans in conjunction with the respective Divisions, and SDU improvement leads will be assigned to Hospital Groups/CHOs to drive the process improvement across the focus sites.

An important element of the Winter Plan is the measurement of the impact on scheduled (non-urgent elective) care by measures put in place to deal with the increased demands of unscheduled care. At the recent ED Task Force meeting, the Special Delivery Unit outlined to the group how this impact would be measured. The Director General of the HSE highlighted the importance of the SDU working with hospitals to ensure that all necessary steps are taken to minimise such an impact in as much as is possible.


Last updated on: 09 / 09 / 2016