Over 1,000 people attend hospital emergency department in a week
AS MORE than 1,000 people attended Tallaght University Hospital’s Emergency Department in the last week alone, we asked the HSE what ‘alternative care options’ are available to members of the community.
In late January, Tallaght University Hospital advised those in its catchment area to “consider alternative care options” to its emergency department (ED), as high attendances result in long wait times.
Having one of the busiest EDs nationally, Tallaght University Hospital’s ED attendances have, for the past 10 months, been at their highest level in six years.
According to the hospital, high attendances have continued into January.
In figures provided to The Echo, the hospital confirmed that January saw an additional 300 people attend ED when compared with December.
In the last week alone, 1,027 patients attended Tallaght’s ED which, according to the hospital, is an increase of over 200 patients in a two-week period.
When Echo.ie reported on TUH’s advice to the community, many of those who engaged with the article online questioned what the ‘alternative care options’ are?
Ongoing difficulties and delays accessing GPs was raised, alongside the role of primary care centres in the delivery of community-based healthcare.
The Echo put questions on ‘alternative care options’ to the HSE and its CHO7 area team, which includes Dublin South West and Dublin West.
We also asked if the HSE has plans to increase the number of GPs in the area and/or access to GPs.
In its reply, a HSE spokesperson said that the CHO7 area has “no remit” in the area of private GP practice.
“Where a GP might choose to practice is market driven for the GP, and cannot be dictated by the HSE,” the spokesperson said.
“The HSE does have a remit in the area of GP services for Medical Card holders, and works with GPs to agree contracts for such.
“All GPs are free to take out a contract with the HSE to deliver services to Medical Card holders on the General Medical Services (GMS) scheme, provided the criteria are met, and the HSE does not restrict the number of contracts in a geographic area.”
According to the HSE, there are currently 29 GPs who hold GMS contracts in in the Dublin 24 area, 20 in Dublin 22, and 18 in Dublin 6.
The HSE said that it includes accommodation provision for GP practices in all new Primary Care Centres (PCC), and “actively engages” with local GPs interested in locating at these centres.
“There are two HSE Primary Care Centres in the area, Kilnamanagh Tymon and Tallaght Cross West both of which accommodate two GP practices,” the HSE said.
“A further three HSE health centres, located in the Tallaght area accommodate GP services.
“The new Ballyboden PCC will accommodate two GP practices, the new Boot Road, Clondalkin PCC, when operational, will have GP services, as will the planned Citywest PCC.
“In addition, TLC-Doc GP Out of Hours service, Tallaght Cross West, which receives funding from the HSE, may provide an alternative to ED for patients of participating GPs.”
The spokesperson added that Government is aware of the “workforce issues currently facing general practice nationally, including the limited access to GP services in certain areas, and has implemented a number of measures to improve recruitment and retention in general practice”.
In a comment to The Echo, Tallaght University Hospital re-iterated its advice to the community.
“The hospital would again like to advise anyone with non-urgent medical problems to seek the advice of their GP or local pharmacy before presenting to the ED,” the hospital said.
“Due to the need to see patients in order of clinical urgency, patients with non-urgent conditions may be waiting longer times to see medical staff.
“We regret any delay a patient of any age experiences whilst waiting in the ED, patients are prioritised according to clinical need.”
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