Fewer patients are waiting on hospital trolleys than this time last year, the Health Minister has said.
Simon Harris said there were 34% fewer patients waiting in emergency departments to be admitted on Monday than the same day last year.
He was speaking after a meeting with Health Service Executive officials to get an update on the rollout of the agency’s winter plan.
It was the second briefing in a week in relation to winter preparedness plans.
The latest statistics from the HSE showed there were 224 people waiting for beds in hospitals across the country on Monday.
Met @HSELive winter oversight group today. Trolley numbers 34% lower today than same day last year. Thanks to staff working so hard across country. Please support their efforts by keeping our emergency departments for emergencies. Check out https://t.co/MRxv4Sig1a for useful info pic.twitter.com/e8AjAz72rU— Simon Harris TD (@SimonHarrisTD) December 31, 2018
Mr Harris attributed the reduction to a number of factors including a lower rate of flu so far this Christmas and new year period, increased investment in home care packages and a significant drop in the number of delayed discharges.
He said it was also down to the “incredible” work of healthcare staff.
“They are 34% down. They are down as a result of the incredible work being done right across the health service for which I’m very grateful,” he said.
He said more measures will be introduced next week to increase the health service’s capacity, including the expansion of acute medical assessment units in a number of hospitals, such as Limerick and Cork, to operate on a 24-hour basis.
He added: “We’re using National Treatment Purchase Fund to provide more access to diagnostics so we don’t find this crazy situation where people find themselves delayed in a hospital because they are waiting for an MRI, cat scan or X-ray.”
He reiterated comments made last week that January was going to be a time for the HSE.
“So far this year’s Christmas and new year’s period has gone better than last year, and better than recent years. But I do still ask the public for their co-operation in keeping our emergency departments for emergencies and using the appropriate health service for the appropriate condition.
“This is going to be a very busy period for the health service, there’s no doubt about it. We’re going to continue to see a surge in the number of patients entering our hospitals.”