The Government has accepted a Private Members Motion tabled in Dáil Éireann today by Clare TD Michael McNamara and members of the Independent Group seeking the implementation of a range of measures aimed at reducing pressure on overcrowded Emergency Departments across the country.
The Motion called for the expansion of Medical Assessment Units (MAU) and Local Injuries Units (LIU) at Tier 2 hospitals such as Ennis, Nenagh and St. John’s to 24-hours, 7-days-a-week; the delivery of an electronic health system to replace paper-based health records without further delay; and the appointment of designated medical officers in every nursing home and ensure that patients in nursing homes can access treatment by primary care teams.
The Government confirmed to the Dáil today it had accepted the Motion and looked forward to implementing the proposals.
Deputy McNamara said the basis for the Motion was the ongoing overcrowding in Irish hospitals, with 2022 seeing a record 121,000 patients being left without a bed, and the ongoing record overcrowding being experienced across the country during 2023.
The Clare TD has welcomed the Government’s acceptance of the Motion and its commitment to implementing the proposal to expand the LIUs and MAUs at Model 2 Hospitals, which he said would help to alleviate pressure on Emergency Departments.
“LIUs deliver efficient, expert treatment to tens of thousands of patients with minor injuries every year and have been of crucial assistance in relieving pressure on Emergency Departments during the pandemic,” he explained. “Furthermore, MAUs play an integral role in Emergency Department avoidance, providing a vital and timely service to GPs and patients. Approximately 10% of MAU cases may require admission to the hospital, and the majority will be discharged, with a follow-up review in the unit within 48 hours.”
Deputy McNamara also welcomed the Government’s commitment to procuring and rolling out a system of electronic health record keeping across the country.
“Ireland remains a laggard in Europe for digitisation in the health system and the introduction of electronic health records. The use of such technology could significantly reduce triage times in Emergency Departments,” he said.
The Clare TD said he hoped the Government would soon move to appoint designated medical officers in every nursing home and ensure that patients in nursing homes can access treatment by primary care teams.
“There remains a lack of a specific national structure or control for clinical oversight of the care of people admitted to nursing homes and they have difficulty accessing treatment by primary care teams. This lack of such oversight and care can result in unnecessary presentations at Emergency Departments,” he noted.
Responding to Deputy McNamara today, Health Minister Stephen Donnelly commented, “The Motion calls for measures to tackle overcrowding in our hospitals quite rightly. We know it’s a problem …The current situation in too many of our emergency departments on too many days of the week is simply not acceptable.”
He added, “The Independent Deputies who tabled this motion quite rightly point to Medical Assessment Units and Local Injury Units. The Urgent Care Plan is looking at these and is looking at expanding provision across these.”
Junior Minister Mary Butler said, “The Motion tabled by the Independent Deputies calls for targeted investment in electronic health records nationally and I agree with that wholeheartedly. It calls for the expansion of MAUs and Local Injury Units at Tier 2 Hospitals. In doing so my Independent colleagues have acknowledged several areas where significant progress has been made, which is primarily as a result of an unprecedented expansion in our public healthcare capacity. This Government has invested in people, and we will continue to do so.”
Minister Butler continued, “We accept the motion from the Deputies, and we look forward to implementing what is in the motion. One area that we really need to make progress with quickly is in relation to e-health piece, especially in relation to homecare and CAMHS teams.”