The HSE winter plan sets aside 77 million euros with the aim of giving patients better access to primary care and increasing hospital capacity as another difficult winter begins.

It has been well received by some healthcare organizations, but the Irish Medical Organization (IMO) has described it as “a sticky bandage to cover a gaping wound” in light of the challenges facing the sector.

Patient benefits include 205 additional hospital beds system-wide, access to 1,100 private bed days per week, 275 community beds, and 100 additional private community beds.

Funding of 10 million euros is planned to continue to provide direct access to scans, including MRIs, for general patients with a target of 4,000 each week to be provided. Since this program started earlier this year, a total of 83,315 diagnostic tests have been performed.

2.7 million additional hours of home support will be made available, the plan citing that is expected to respond to pressures caused by price increases in the sector.

The plan also provided for € 4 million for services for people with disabilities, € 1 million for mental health services and € 4.1 million for services for the elderly.

The document states: “The winter plan is a short-term tactical plan aimed at alleviating winter pressures. ”

He says a key challenge is to continue treating Covid patients while opening up non-Covid care and making up for the backlog of treatments caused during the pandemic and cyberattack.

Growing number of patients on carts

The document recognizes the growing number of patients on carts in hospitals who cannot get beds, and says it hopes to remedy the delays.

Surveillance of the Irish Organization of Nurses and Midwives (INMO) cart on Monday showed 401 people on carts waiting to receive a hospital bed.

A section of the winter plan based on this daily INMO data shows Cork University Hospital has accounted for 8.6% of all patients on carts over the past eight weeks.

University Hospital Kerry accounted for 6% and University Hospital Mercy 5.7%, with the highest number of patients on trolleys at Galway University Hospital at 12.9%.

The winter plan also provides for funding of € 5.7 million to the national ambulance service for the Pathfinder program, which takes care of patients at home and reduces the number of emergency services.

The IMO has warned that hospital waiting lists will exceed 1 million patients in the coming months.

“The winter plan is like using a band-aid to cover a gaping wound,” said IMO President Dr Ina Kelly.

“Our health services remain crippled by a lack of bed capacity on the one hand and a shortage of doctors and other health professionals on the other hand and until we resolve these two issues we will always try. to prevent a crisis from becoming a disaster. ”

Careful welcome from INMO

INMO greeted the plan with caution.

“We need urgent action to use the full bed capacity available in private hospitals to divert appropriate care from our acute care hospitals,” Deputy Secretary-General-designate Edward Mathews said.

“Our acute care hospitals are not only full, they are overcrowded, so increasing the capacity of the private sector is imperative to take the pressure off hospitals across the country.

“The number of people on carts is increasing, Covid cases and hospitalizations are on the rise and nearly a million people are on waiting lists.”

The plan also includes spending € 20.1 million to maintain the series of SafetyNET agreements with private hospitals, which has helped many patients avoid long waiting lists for public care.

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