UL Hospitals Group and HSE Mid-West combine to ensure services are winter ready

UL Hospitals Group CEO, Prof Colette Cowan: Focus on de-escalation

UL Hospitals Group CEO, Prof Colette Cowan: Focus on de-escalation

THE UL Hospitals Group and HSE Mid-West have joined forces to launch their €1m master plan for tackling healthcare challenges over the busy winter period.

In the coming months, Limerick is expected to see a busy period of stretched GP services, an overcrowded emergency department and wards, lengthy waiting lists amid the threat of a flu and norovirus outbreak.

That is why top officials at the UL Hospitals Group and HSE Mid-West have been planning for the December to March period since the summer.

Extended access to acute and emergency services and enhanced supports for the elderly are core to the new winter initiative plan, it was announced this week.

Of the total €30m national winter action plan, the UL Hospitals Group has been allocated €1.14m, a spokesperson said. 

Some of the winter initiative measures include the opening of the acute medical assessment unit at UHL for 24 hours in a 19-bay facility.

The old AMAU, comprising 17 bays, will act as a surgical short stay unit, and this will occur on a phased basis next month. It is expected that this will facilitate extra emergency procedures during the winter season.

Additionally, there will be extra emergency theatre lists; an increase in access to diagnostics and MRI services, three evenings a week; and the opening of two new critical care beds.

The local injury units at St John’s will operate as normal, 8am to 6pm, Monday to Friday; and Ennis and Nenagh injury units will operate 8am to 8pm, seven days a week.

UL Hospitals Group CEO, Prof Colette Cowan is also joint chair of regional winter action team alongside HSE Mid-West chief officer, Bernard Gloster.

Prof Cowan said, between now and Christmas, they “will be focusing on de-escalating the UHL site; getting patients well and discharged home to their families; and winding down our elective activity to better manage any increase in emergency activity in January. Our dedicated staff will continue to provide emergency services throughout the holiday period. We are currently engaging with staff representatives to provide enhanced services in the coming weeks”.

An additional 36 home support packages have been allocated to target patient flow and ensuring support for people leaving hospital.

Additional supports have also been provided for the purchase of additional aids and appliances to support people at home and €350,000 has been allocated to the additional year round budget to support this, a spokesperson said this week. 

Mr Gloster said community healthcare services will assist in cases where hospital presentation can be avoided and assisting cases where a timely discharge will assist patients and services in the region. The HSE launched its winter initiative plan last week, months after the NHS launched its own. 

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