Belfast Telegraph

Department of Health announces extra £3m for winter pressures

The Department of Health has announced an extra £3m in funding to help health and social care services deal with winter pressures.

As the cold snap hits, hospitals across Northern Ireland are experiencing high patient numbers and long waiting lists in their emergency departments.

Much of the pressure facing the health and social care system stems from staffing and bed shortage issues, as well as increasing numbers of older people being admitted to emergency departments with multiple health problems.

The £3m funding will be directed at key areas, such as staff recruitment for home care, care packages for older people with dementia, and the purchasing of disability and community care equipment.

Department of Health chief Richard Pengelly said we all owe a "huge debt of gratitude" to staff working through the winter pressures.

"We are sorry that too many patients continue to experience long waits. All feasible steps to ease the pressures are being taken," he added.

"Every one of us can also all do our bit to help staff help us. That means using services appropriately and doing all we can to help stay well.”

Sinn Fein's health spokesperson, Pat Sheehan MLA, welcomed the funding and said he had been meeting with Health Trusts to discuss the challenges facing services.

"It is clear in my meetings with Trust staff, particularly those in A&E departments, that the serious pressures facing services are now year-round rather than just winter pressures," he added.

"Challenges such as delayed discharges are often a result of a lack of capacity in the domiciliary care sector.

"Capacity in domiciliary care sector is a serious and ongoing problem felt across the north and initiatives to address it need to be pursued throughout the year."

Belfast Telegraph Digital

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