Published: 09 January 2023

Winter briefing Thursday 5 January 2023

Please note

The briefing begins 23 seconds into this video.

Our health services are seeing unprecedented levels of demand, Chief Executive Officer Stephen Mulvany said on Thursday last. This is a result of significant levels of influenza, COVID-19 and Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) in circulation. The week (26 December to 1 January 2023) saw the highest-ever recorded attendance and admission of patients over 75 years of age.

Our services are facing significant challenges as a result, including:

  • Congestion in Emergency Departments
  • Severe waiting times

Supporting staff and working with all stakeholders to protect patient safety is our main priority over the coming weeks, said Stephen. He also thanked and acknowledged staff for all their hard work at this very busy time.

Measures to address the current situation include:

  • Investment of €160 million to support hospital avoidance
  • Establishing a national crisis management team
  • Site visits by the national crisis management team to provide support
  • Clarifying and updating clinical protocols
  • Re-examining all options to get additional capacity
  • Increased weekend working

Vaccine uptake is also a key priority, particularly among healthcare workers, who are at greater risk of becoming sick.

It’s not too late to get vaccinated.

Chief Executive Officer Stephen Mulvany

Stephen urged all healthcare workers to get their COVID-19 booster and flu vaccines if they have not already done so.

You can get your vaccine by:

Elieen Whelan, National Lead for the Test, Trace and Vaccination Programme, gave an update on current COVID-19 levels, the vaccination status of various age groups and the latest NIAC approved groups. She said those in the 35 to 44 age range had the highest prevalence of COVID-19 in December 2022.

Since Thursday, 29 December, almost 70% of the second booster administrations have been to 18 to 49 year olds. Eileen highlighted that the uptake of the second booster among healthcare workers is low at 24%. She said that all efforts were being made to increase this.

Immunity wanes over time. Vaccination is important for all age groups

Elieen Whelan, National Lead for the Test, Trace and Vaccination Programme

Pop-up clinics are available in many services and hospitals for staff to get their boosters at work. Please check locally for details.

Find out more about COVID-19 boosters

Dr John Cuddihy, Director of Public Health, Area C echoed the advice to protect yourself and those you care for by getting vaccinated. In addition to high levels of COVID-19, RSV, and the escalation of flu cases, there is some concern about invasive Group A Streptococcal disease (iGAS) cases, which have seen a recent increase.

John reiterated the importance of the public health advice; staying at home if unwell, and managing symptoms at home where possible.

Joe Ryan, National Director Operational Performance and Integration talked about the significant pressure caused by high ED attendances. He outlined some of the actions being rolled out as part of the 2022-2023 Winter Plan to deal with this pressure, including:

Non-urgent advice: Winter Plan 2022/23 actions

  • Increased access in Local Injury Units; including one additional LIU in Mullingar
  • Additional contracted capacity in our National Ambulance Service
  • Increased staffing for Emergency Departments in Medical and Nursing
  • Increased focus on patient pathways to assist patients in getting treated as quickly as possible
  • Increased private beds in community settings including additional transition beds for patients
  • Increased funding to assist with discharges such as aids and appliances, complex care package

Joe thanked staff for all your hard work at this very busy time.