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HSE board was working from ‘hourly’ information

The Chair of the HSE board acknowledged the short period of time in which members received papers prior to discussing the HSE Winter Plan, describing a situation where information was “arriving hourly”.

In an email to board members on Monday, 17 August, Chair Mr Ciarán Devane wrote: “We have a call on the Winter Plan on Friday [21 August]. There is a lot of work happening and information arriving hourly. With the advice from the Taoiseach to get our ask in early, our plan is to produce as high a quality paper as quickly as possible to frame the conversation for Friday.”

“I am sure others, as well as myself, are more comfortable with board papers arriving a week ahead, but that is not the world we live in at the moment. Your indulgence will be appreciated.” The HSE Winter Plan was published on 24 September.

In the same email in August, which was seen following a Freedom of Information request, Mr Devane referred to decisions for the Government on ‘lockdowns’.

“An important upcoming decision will be on what the response strategy should be for the increase in outbreaks, eg, more local lockdowns at one end of the spectrum to reimposing a national lockdown on the other,” he wrote.

“Hence, the interest in what NPHET provides in options and trade-offs. The good news is that the increased number of cases is not resulting (at least as yet) in more hospitalisations. This may be due to the age profile or more accurately the health profile of the new cases.”

The HSE Chair also noted that “public support for basic hygiene, social distancing and self-isolation remain critical”.

“As [HSE CEO Mr Paul Reid] points out, testing and tracing can do so much, but not everything. As a precaution Paul is asking for some of cross-Government staff who did contact tracing to be seconded back to have more spare capacity if needed.”

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