Thursday 13 December 2018

Hospital appointments axed as vulnerable people get priority for home help

(Stock image)
(Stock image)
Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

Hospitals have had to take the drastic decision to cancel the appointments of thousands of patients at outpatient clinics or on a list for scheduled surgery as a result of the dangerous weather conditions.

The risks facing patients travelling to appointments and a lack of staff means all non-essential services within hospitals and in the community in the worst-hit regions of Munster and Leinster are halted today and tomorrow. 

HSE staff who cannot travel are to be granted emergency leave with pay.

The HSE said that in Connacht and Ulster, where an orange warning is in place, it anticipates “some difficulties for both staff and patients in getting to work and appointments”.

“Our local service managers in those areas will make decisions based on the prevailing weather,” it said.

A spokesman said: “We are endeavouring to ensure that where appointments, clinics and certain services are cancelled and postponed that our staff contact those affected directly. However, if anyone is due to attend in the affected areas over the next two days they should ring in advance and check that it is still going ahead.”

Meanwhile, there is concern about older people living on their own in isolated areas where home helps will have difficulty travelling to.

A spokeswoman for the HSE in Cork and Kerry told the Irish Independent: “We have identified the most vulnerable people dependent on our services, and our priority is to make sure they are provided with a service, regardless of the weather conditions.

“We are working with all other State agencies, including local authorities.

“In some cases, local authorities are ensuring that certain roads are prioritised for gritting so staff have access to facilities or people in need. Arrangements are made to get staff, particularly public health nurses, to make calls.”

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