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In a presentation at the Emergency Department (ED) Taskforce Unscheduled Care Forum on 4 September, Mr Ian Carter stated that plans submitted in respect of handling winter presentations were “still not approved” and additional funding, where identified, was either not agreed or rejected.
Mr Carter, who is also CEO of Beaumont Hospital, underlined that “short-term reactive planning to specific periods of the year cannot continue to be the solution”. His slides queried whether the ED Taskforce was the “ongoing appropriate control solution” and if ‘winter planning’ should be discussed when “the problem manifests throughout the year”.
The CEO discussed actions by RCSI Hospitals to maximise capacity, with the Group considered as “an integrated, singular capacity construct”.
At Beaumont, admission alternatives included ambulatory and outpatient department care and the use of a frail intervention therapy team. In 2018, there was a 2.5 per cent reduction in ED admissions, despite a 6 per cent increase in attendances.
Paraphrasing recent comments by former US President Barack Obama, Mr Carter’s presentation stated that discourse “needs to avoid bombast, insult and outrage” but still “[be] contained within an accountability framework”.
According to an RCSI Hospitals spokesperson, the winter plan for the “integrated construct” [Community Healthcare Organisation (CHO) 1, CHO 8, CHO 9 and RCSI Hospitals] was submitted on 16 August.
The spokesperson referred to a requirement by “national HSE” that it validate and approve all winter plans, including any additional funding requirement. “To date, this exercise has not occurred and no future date for this exercise has yet been identified.”
A HSE spokesperson told the Medical Independent on 13 September: “Winter planning is currently well underway and the HSE is working with the Department of Health, Hospital Groups and CHOs to finalise plans as quickly as possible to ensure preparedness for winter.”
Minister for Health Simon Harris has acknowledged that the ED Taskforce needs to be “re-energised and reformed”, according to a Department spokesperson.