18/01/2019

DoH Allocates Extra £3m To Cope With Winter Pressures

The Department of Health (DoH) has allocated an extra £3 million in funding to help health and social care services in Northern Ireland cope with increased pressures over winter.

Hospitals in the region are experiencing high patient numbers as temperatures drop and waiting times in emergency departments are expected to grow.

The additional funding will be targeted at specific areas including; recruitment of staff for domiciliary care, care package provision for older people with dementia, and procurement of disability and community care equipment.

The growing demand for A&E availability for older people with multiple health problems was a driving factor behind the health and social care board's decision to allocate more funds, as the elderly often require longer stays in hospital and more complex community care packages when they are discharged.

Mitigation measures have been put in place to help ease pressures where possible, and appear to have been beneficial.

Hospital emergency departments performed better in the past month, when compared with the same period last year despite a rise in attendances and admissions, according to new data.
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Department of Health Permanent Secretary Richard Pengelly said: "We all owe a huge debt of gratitude to staff for working through these pressures. We are sorry that too many patients continue to experience long waits. All feasible steps to ease the pressures are being taken.

"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."

The Department also published a series of 'stay well' tips for the winter months:

• If you are seriously ill or injured, then the Emergency Department is the place to go, however busy it may be. If you attend an ED, you will be assessed and triaged as quickly as possible, with the most urgent medical cases given the greatest priority.

• If you do not need emergency care, a range of alternative services is available. These include using the online A-Z symptom checker, seeking advice from a pharmacist, going to a Minor Injury Unit, or contacting a GP or the GP Out of Hours services (if your medical condition can't wait until the GP surgery reopens).

• The online A-Z symptom checker can be found on the NI Direct website

• Advice on reducing the risk of falls is available on the Health and Social Care website



(JG/CM)

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