The Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly TD, has today published the HSE’s Winter Plan for 2021/22. The health sector is expecting to face significant challenges this winter in providing emergency care whilst also dealing with COVID-19 in addition to the normal challenges of the winter period. Recognising that a whole system response is required, the Plan outlines how the HSE proposes to manage these challenges across primary, community and acute care including measures to allow the public system to access private healthcare capacity.
Minister Donnelly said:
“I am today publishing our Winter Plan for 2021/2022, and I particularly welcome the enhanced focus on service restoration in disability services, mental health, services for older people and social inclusion care groups.
“I fully support the HSE’s commitment to improve Patient Experience Times, particularly in terms of keeping everyone safe while we respond to COVID-19.”
The Winter Plan aims to support people to remain in their own homes by providing the following patient pathways:
GP Liaison Nurses to manage direct referrals from GP’s to ED
Geriatric Community Support
enhance and expand Frailty Intervention Therapy Team models
Community Response Teams (nursing and therapies)
Community respiratory admission avoidance teams
expansion of the National Ambulance Service Pathfinder initiative
COPD outreach teams
There will also be a public advice/communication campaign for winter regarding alternative pathways for winter and managing winter viruses.
Minister Donnelly said:
“I would also like to highlight the importance of those who need medical attention continuing to seek it as soon as you feel unwell. I urge everyone to consider alternatives to the Emergency Department such as your local pharmacy, GP or Minor Injury Unit as appropriate.”
The Plan builds on the supports provided in last year’s Winter Plan and seeks to provide 4,000 GP diagnostics per week. Funding has also been provided to support the provision of out of hours GP services. The Plan aims to enable patients to be seen in the community wherever possible by by providing alternative care pathways outside the acute sector in line with Sláintecare.
HSE Winter Preparedness Plan: October 2021 – March 2022 – https://www.hse.ie/eng/services/publications/winter-plan-2021-2022.pdf