Injury clinics 'could relieve A&E queues'
Health Minister Leo Varadkar says he does not want ambulances to take patients automatically to overcrowded hospital A&E departments from next year, writes Eilish O'Regan.
He said they could be cared for through alternative means including minor injury clinics, smaller hospitals, primary care centres and acute medical assessment units.
The patient watchdog Hiqa has also said that not all patients should be taken to hospital and more can be treated at the scene by advanced paramedics.
Speaking in the Dáil during a debate on A&E overcrowding - in the wake of controversy over the numbers of elderly people spending 29 hours on trolleys - he said he acknowledged the delays.
"Too many patients across Ireland are still spending far too long in our emergency departments, waiting to be seen, to be moved to a hospital bed, or to be sent home," he said.
"The disquieting events of last week, when a number of individual cases were highlighted in the media, were met with the familiar cries for more beds, more money and more staff.
"This is already happening. The problem is complicated, with multiple causes, and they all need to be addressed, and any efforts and actions must be sustained."