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Extra 550 homecare packages may benefit only nine hospitals


The extra homecare packages which will be unveiled in the HSE’s winter plan today. Stock image

The extra homecare packages which will be unveiled in the HSE’s winter plan today. Stock image

The extra homecare packages which will be unveiled in the HSE’s winter plan today. Stock image

The additional 550 homecare packages to be funded over the winter to ease the trolley crisis are expected to benefit only nine hospitals.

These hospitals have been earmarked for more investment after an analysis of overcrowding and so-called bed blocking.

The extra homecare packages which will be unveiled in the HSE's winter plan today are designed to move as many patients who no longer need acute care back to their homes over the coming weeks.

Around 300 will be used in the run-up to Christmas to empty as many beds as possible, and the remainder in early 2019.

The hospitals selected for extra support include the Mater, St Vincent's and Tallaght Hospitals in Dublin.

Also included are Naas General Hospital, Tullamore Hospital, Galway University Hospital, University Hospital Limerick, Cork University Hospital and University Hospital Waterford.

The plan will include €16m for social care supports including the 550 homecare packages. It is also planned to open more beds but the majority will not be available until early next year.

The winter plan will focus strongly on the weeks between December 17 and January 13.

It will include the opening of winter-ready clinics in the community targeted at at-risk groups, offering services such as the flu vaccine.

There will be extended opening hours, and expanded services for local injury units, minor injury units and key primary care centres.

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The HSE is promising more diagnostic access for GPs for patients who need scans and this service will also operate for extended hours in acute hospitals.

Arrangements have been made to secure scanning from private providers.

It will also include frailty intervention teams in A&Es and in community facilities.

This will be mostly geared towards the over-75s to determine what is the best care for them and assess if they should be admitted or sent home with supports.

Members of the Oireachtas were briefed yesterday on the scale of the trolley and overcrowding crisis. The briefing, which were organised by Sinn Féin health spokesperson Louise O'Reilly TD, was attended by representatives and frontline healthcare workers from the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO), the Irish Medical Organisation (IMO), the Irish Hospital Consultants Association (IHCA) and Siptu.

"Those who attended painted a bleak picture of the everyday situation for patients and staff alike," said Ms O'Reilly.

"However, they did provide us with solutions and explained how the proper management of the crisis by the Government could dramatically improve the situation.

"There was unanimity at the briefing that all closed beds need to be immediately reopened and that we have to significantly increase capacity as a matter of urgency in order to cope with changing demographics.

"Those on the frontline were at pains to impress upon us that the recruitment and retention crisis is having a devastating effect on the frontline and that it is making their work almost impossible."

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