Further rises in ED admissions for flu and RSV

by Rose Barrett
0 comment

As pressure increases on hospitals in Dublin and throughout the country, the HSE expects that influenza (flu) activity will peak in the coming weeks.

A spokesperson for the Health Executive stated: “Week one of this year has seen approximately 2,645 cases of flu (and this is not yet complete). We saw a 77per cent increase in patients presenting to Emergency Departments (EDs) with Covid-19 and a 92 per cent increase in those presenting with flu (during Week 1 2024 compared to week 52 2023).

“RSV ED cases remained stable during the last week of ’23 and the first week of ’24. We are showing a decreasing trend compared to previous weeks. ED attendances are also up 2pc since 2022 and up 10pc from 2019. ED admissions are up 4.3pc from 2022, up 9pc since 2019.”

There is also an increase in ED attendance of 7pc for those aged over 75 years in 2022 (an increase of 22pc since 2019).

Deputy Duncan Smith, Labour spokesperson on Health, said: “The respiratory illnesses effecting our acute hospitals every winter is becoming depressingly predictable.

“Whilst expanding capacity in our acute hospital settings is the ultimate goal, the Government could be investing resources in a more robust vaccination scheme and ensuring all cost barriers are removed for accessing these vaccines.

“We have been calling for free flu vaccines for many years, but this call always falls on deaf ears.”

However, the HSE noted that it has improved its patient flow process so as to ensure patients move through hospitals as quickly as possible. The HSE Urgent and Emergency Care plan, introduced in mid-2023, put forward action under four headings Hospital Avoidance, ED Operations, In Hospital Operations and Discharge Operations.

RE hospital avoidance, since early 2023 the HSE has been working hard to support its acute hospitals, with teams across the country grow its community-based services for older persons and those with chronic diseases. This enables many to be treated in their own communities, for example, community diagnostic programmes to allow GPs refer patients directly for x-rays without having to attend an ED.

ED Operations: The HSE set a target that across its 29 Emergency Departments at 8am every morning, there should be no more than 320 patients (average) awaiting admission on trolleys. Not being complacent with reducing the numbers on trolleys, between July and December ’23, the HSE achieved that target on 70pc of days. 

In Hospital Operations: in the second half of 2023, with the implementation of the Urgent and Emergency Care Plan, improvements in the trolley numbers of approx 22pc overall were recorded – over the same period in 2022. Particular focus was given to the over 75’s in the EDs and staff worked hard to minimise the length of time waiting for admission.

The HSE aimed to reduce the number of over 75s waiting more than 24 hours for an inpatient bed.

“We reduced that by 16pc (3,394 fewer patients) in ‘23 when compared to 2022. While we regret that any patient waits long periods of time, particularly our elderly patients, we continue to prioritise the allocation of an inpatient bed to the over 75s awaiting a bed in our EDs.”

Dicharge operations: noting additional community/transitional care beds and other home supports in place, more patients can be discharged from hospital to a facility or home, once it’s clinically appropriate. Where available, hospitals are also using appropriate private hospital beds with support from community teams for patients discharged home or to other appropriate facilities, once they are clinically fit for discharge. It further ensures its DTOC (Delayed Transfer of Care) patients are kept to a minimum and are well below our planned maximum target as of January 1.

Dublin Gazette readers are reminded that they can get vaccinated against flu at their local pharmacy or GP by appointment. The over 65s were the largest age group to be impacted by the recent spread of flu, followed by U14s.

Related Articles