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27 Sept 2022

Tipperary included in €1.14m budget to be spent on Be Winter Ready programme

Extra care packages and initiatives are put in place

Tipperary included in €1.14m budget to be spent on Be Winter Ready programm

HSE Mid West has announced its Be Winter Ready initiative

University Hospital Limerick Group, which looks after hospitals and patients in North Tipperary, has been allocated €1.14m towards its Be Winter Ready programme.

The hospital group and HSE Mid-West Community Healthcare have teamed up as part of the €30m national initiative.

The integrated approach is designed to better manage any surge in demand on acute hospital services and better support people at home and in community settings over the winter period, with an enhanced focus from mid-December to mid-January.

Among the measures the group will be taking in the coming weeks are: opening an Acute Medical Assessment Unit (AMAU) at UHL 24/7 in a new 19-bay unit; the old AMAU (17 bays) will be opened as an Acute Surgical Short Stay Unit. It is intended this will happen on phased basis in January, facilitating additional emergency procedures; additional emergency theatre lists will also run during the focus period; increased access to diagnostics (MRI) three evenings a week; opening of new two critical care beds.

Prof Colette Cowan, CEO, UL Hospitals Group, and joint chair regional winter action team, said: “Winter invariably presents challenges for acute, community and primary healthcare providers and this year will be no different. Ensuring integrated working between acute hospitals and the community over the winter period ensures the optimisation and alignment of existing resources and pathways.

"Between now and Christmas we 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.

“This year we are extending the opening hours of our Acute Medical Assessment Unit and of our diagnostic services, in addition to increasing bed capacity and other measures. In addition, our injury units will continue to operate as normal at Ennis, Nenagh and St John's hospitals. We encourage patients to consider all their care options before presenting to the ED at UHL. We expect the ED will be very busy early in the new year. Patients will get safe care but may face long waits. The injury units are a good alternative for many of our patients.

"Members of the public are also urged to consider the practical suggestions in the HSE’s Be Winter Ready campaign: to ensure they and their loved ones, particularly those with chronic conditions, have had the flu vaccine; that elderly relatives have all their medications and prescriptions; that they have enough food and fuel during the winter period; that sensible precautions around handwashing are being taken to reduce the risk of infections and so on,” said Ms Cowan.

HSE Mid-West Community Healthcare has been allocated additional resources to support the winter period.  Among these include 36 additional Home Support Packages directly targeted at patient flow and ensuing support for people leaving hospital and also an alternative to help in cases where avoiding admission to hospital is indicated.

These 36 Home Support Packages are in addition to the very large volume of Home Support Services which HSE Mid-West is delivering throughout the year.

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

UHL Group has alsoutilised throughout 2018 a very successful measure in Transitional Care, where people leaving hospital can have convalescent support until their onward care plan or return home is finalised. Additional funding nationally has been provided for transitional care over the winter, and HSE Mid-West will be maximising this to the full benefit of the public, she said. 

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