A multimillion euro winter plan to enable the health service to manage Covid-19 alongside other healthcare needs is being launched by the HSE today.
€600 million has been allocated for the 2020 Winter Initiative to ensure that the health service has the capacity and resources to deal with the “challenging” coming months. The plan will aim to boost capacity in hospitals and the community against the backdrop of the pandemic. The HSE is promising hundreds of additional hospital beds as part of the plan, along with the hiring of extra hospital staff.
The plan is also set to include an expanded flu vaccination programme in an attempt to reduce stress on the country’s healthcare service.
Dr Denis McCauley, chair of the Irish Medical Organisation’s GP committee, said it needs to be wide-ranging: “I would like to ensure that we continue the support to general practice for performing the Covid work which is very arduous and time-consuming,” he said.
The health service is entering a challenging winter period, in the midst of a global pandemic.
“From a GP perspective I would like to ensure that there is no unplanned transfer of work from the hospital to GPs as we find that our capacity is nearly exceeded anyway.” At the beginning of the month, Health Minister Stephen Donnelly announced winter measures would include the extension of GP special payments to ensure Covid-19 consultations and testing remains free of charge to everyone.
Minister Donnelly said the winter would be a time requiring collective effort: “The health service is entering a challenging winter period, in the midst of a global pandemic. It’s important that we make every effort collectively to limit the impact on the health service over the coming months.”
The Government’s new “Living with Covid-19” plan also sets out healthcare improvements to be implemented over the coming months, including more healthcare hours, community assessment hubs and additional beds in critical care units and hospital wards.Critical cancer services, such as screenings and care, will also be supported while there will be a national plan to increase mental health supports.
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