The HSE National Director of Acute Operations Mr Liam Woods raised concerns at a recent meeting that the lack of availability of GP appointments was contributing to people attending “under-resourced and under-staffed” emergency departments (EDs) and may compromise patient safety.
According to minutes of the HSE safety and quality meeting on 15 September, Dr Orla Healy, National Clinical Director for Quality and Patient Safety, delivered a briefing on the patient experience section of a new quality report, “which included information relating to over-75s and the timeframes when they present to hospital emergency departments.”
“Due to cocooning, that particular cohort are frailer, and they are now presenting with more conditions,” according to the meeting minutes.
In response the committee raised concerns over some data indicators in the quality report that were “declining monthly”.
According to the minutes, the committee then heard from Mr Woods who said this decline was a result of “growth in attendance at ED, extra admissions and delays in transfers of care due to under-resourced and under-staffed EDs”.
Mr Woods told the committee that “action plans” were being “generated to address these issues”, one of which was integrated programmes for older persons in the community. He emphasised the pressure on EDs “may affect patient safety as some hospitals are getting nearly three times the normal attendance”.
“The lack of availability of GP appointments is part of the cause as people are then presenting to the ED instead.”