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Now you'll know how long hospital wait will be

NEW technology will help capture "real-time" information on hospital waiting lists next winter.

The Department of Health confirmed the new move to the Herald today after a nurses' organisation's figures showed 25,000 were on trolleys in hospital Accident & Emergency units in the first three months of the year.

The aim is to "accurately reflect" waiting times at hospitals, a spokesperson said.

Currently, the Health Service Executive records waiting times afternoon each day, while the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) publishes information each morning.

"Minister Reilly has made it clear he intends setting up a Special Delivery Unit to tackle the problems of waiting lists, including difficulties in emergency departments," the Department spokesperson said.

The minister, along with officials, has held a range of meetings, including with the HSE, "regarding the most effective methodology for setting up the Unit, which is being processed with all urgency," the Department told the Herald.

"It's worth noting that the information currently available from the HSE on waiting times in emergency departments records those who have been assessed as in need of admission at 2pm each day, while the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation publishes information from 8am each day.



DEVELOPMENT

"As part of the development of a plan to help our hospitals cope with likely increased demand from emergency department services next winter, it's the intention to develop the necessary Information Technology systems," the Deparment spokesperson added.

This would capture 'real-time' information which will "accurately reflect waiting times".

The INMO, which publishes trolley waiting figures on its website daily, said that on Wednesday there were 496 patients on trolleys in hospitals, with 180 of them in the eastern part of the country.

Beaumont had 39 patients on Thursday morning, while there were 31 at St Vincent's University Hospital, 29 at Tallaght Hospital, 24 at Connolly Hospital, Blanchardstown and 23 at Naas General Hospital.

The INMO had said the figure of almost 25,000 on trolleys in the first three months of the year showed that the waiting crisis was deepening.

mlavery@herald.ie


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