Published: 07 November 2022

Winter briefing Thursday 2 November

Please note

The briefing begins 7 minutes and 20 seconds into this video.

Speaking from Dr Steevens’ Hospital on Thursday, CEO Stephen Mulvany thanked you for all your work over the last 2 years.

Stephen spoke about the issues our services are expecting to face over the coming months. These include:

  • Increased demand on emergency departments (EDs)
  • Significant issues around waiting times and waiting lists
  • An increase in chronic illness, due to the older population increasing at a much faster rate than the general population

He highlighted some alternatives to ED attendance and admission as a way of dealing with this pressure. These alternatives include:

  • Injury units
  • Out of hours GPs
  • Pharmacies

Stephen also talked about the importance of getting your COVID-19 and flu vaccines:

"We know our healthcare workers do not want to place their co-workers at risk, or place their vulnerable patients at risk, whether directly or indirectly by becoming ill themselves and having to stay off work. We are working hard to make COVID and flu vaccinations readily accessible, and we are encouraging our healthcare workers to take the opportunity to protect themselves and others by getting vaccinated."

Eileen Whelan, National Lead for the Test, Trace and Vaccination Programme, encouraged those eligible for a booster to come forward to protect themselves and others this winter.

You can get your vaccine by:

Chief Clinical Officer Colm Henry also highlighted the importance of vaccinations to protect against serious illness, and of maintaining good hygiene habits to prevent the spread of infection. Colm mentioned that while recent COVID-19 variants may spreader at a faster rate, they do not appear to cause more serious illness.

Speaking about the congestion in EDs and concerns around staffing levels, Colm said there was “no quick fix” to staffing levels being below what they should be, and that the Winter Plan aims to address this as a key priority:

"It’s a journey we’re on to create multiple points of access, where we create multiple opportunities for people who want to remain in Ireland to deliver healthcare – not just in hospital emergency departments, but out in the community as well."

Chief Operations Officer Damien McCallion also talked about the significant pressure caused by high ED attendance, and higher admission rates for older patients in particular. Damien outlined how the 2021/22 National Service Plan has been aiming to deal with this pressure, along with the actions and funding being rolled out as part of the 2022-2023 Winter Plan.