Published: 16 January 2023

Winter briefing Thursday 12 January 2023

Please note

The briefing begins 3 minutes and 56 seconds into this video.

Significantly high levels of COVID-19, Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) and flu in particular make this an “exceptional season”, said Chief Executive Officer Stephen Mulvany last Thursday.

While our health system is still under unprecedented pressure, this has been eased somewhat by additional measures taken by staff recently. These measures include:

  • Increased GP clinic hours
  • More private hospital beds in use to increase capacity
  • Improved visibility of available beds in public and private nursing homes
  • Increased weekend activity across hospital and community services

Stephen thanked all of our staff across the health service for their efforts.

“We will continue to deal with high levels of flu and other viruses during February and likely into March”, the CEO said, and highlighted the importance of getting vaccinated.

You can book your vaccine appointment online or go to a participating pharmacy or GP.

Chief Operations Officer Damien McCallion also acknowledged the efforts of our staff at this time and the positive impact it’s having:

"It is an emergency response, it’s not sustainable for the long term, but it’s something that’s proving invaluable at the moment. I want to reinforce the importance of that and what our staff have done."

Chief Clinical Officer Dr Colm Henry said it is “too early” to say if flu cases have peaked yet, and there will likely be ongoing pressure in hospitals and community services as a result of unscheduled care.

Colm also provided an update on RSV cases. While cases are continuing to rise among young children, hospitalisation numbers dropped by 5% in the first week of January.

Eileen Whelan, National Lead for the Test, Trace and Vaccination Programme, said there has been a notable increase in uptake of booster vaccinations among healthcare workers across all hospital groups over the last number of weeks.

168 vaccination clinics are scheduled for the next 10 days, 46 of which are pop-up clinics exclusively for healthcare workers. We are continuing to encourage all healthcare workers to get their vaccines if they have not already done so.

Eileen expressed concern over the high levels of flu in circulation, particularly for those over 65 years old and under 4 years old. 700 hospitalisations have been reported for under 14 year olds so far this winter.

“We have put specific clinics in place and it’s really important that people take advantage of those this week and next week as the flu rates are on the rise. This is an important time for parents to take their children to the vaccination centres.”