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Record patient numbers and cyberattack impacting EDs

Many  of Ireland’s 28 Emergency Departments (EDs) have seen “record daily  numbers of patients in the past few weeks” according to the Irish Association for Emergency Medicine (IAEM).

The IAEM said this has  resulted in severe congestion and delays, particularly for those with less acute care  needs.

“This sharp  increase is  occurring  at  a  time  when  very  few  EDs  have a  fully  functioning suite  of  ICT as  a  result  of the cyberattack  on  the  HSE  in  mid-May,” the Association said in a statement.  

“This, in turn, is contributing to  delays  as  many  previously  ICT-enabled processes  continue  to  have  to  be  performed  manually  or  are  being  performed  with  significantly  limited ICT functionality.”

The IAEM added that fact  that  the  effects  of  the  cyberattack  are  still  so  significant  so  long  after  the  attack  “is  a reflection  of  the  level  of  destruction the  attack wreaked on the HSE’s ICT Infrastructure”.

The Association added that while many “might understandably” assume the problem had been resolved at this stage, “this is very far from the case”.

The Association added that “the capacity  of  EDs  is  finite  and  many  are  genuinely  struggling  to  deal  with  the  patient  workload  at  the  current time”.

“It is imperative therefore that steps are urgently taken to provide suitable but functional alternatives to ED referral, e.g. dedicated rapid access clinics in general medicine and surgery, for those patients  where  emergency medicine has nothing to offer.”

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