Tuesday, 21 July 2020
Department of Health
In response to the Covid-19 pandemic the HSE had to take measures to pause most elective scheduled care activity with effect from the end March 2020. This was to ensure patient safety and that all appropriate resources were made available for Covid-19 related activity and time-critical essential work. This decision was in line with the advice issued by National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) and in accordance with World Health Organization guidelines, and the National Action Plan.
The trajectory of the disease means there is now an opportunity for increasing the provision of non-covid care including more routine care. NPHET has since revised its recommendation on the pausing of all non-essential health services, with a recommendation that the delivery of acute care be determined by appropriate clinical and operational decision making.
Application of the essential risk mitigating steps set out in the guidance developed under the auspices of the NPHET Expert Advisory group will have operational implications, which will impact on throughput.
Where possible, hospitals are working to find innovative ways to enable service provision, which include virtual clinics for some outpatient department appointments. The HSE website provides details on services currently available and operational in each hospital on its website. This information is reviewed frequently and provides up-to-date announcements on services available at each site ().
To ensure services are re-introduced in a safe, clinically-aligned and prioritised way, the HSE launched its Strategic Framework for ‘Service Continuity in a Covid Environment’ on 24th June. Its implementation will ensure service resumption is done in an integrated way. This will involve a phased approach to ensure community services are strengthened. The Framework will also consolidate new ways of working and build on international knowledge. The HSE is currently developing a Service Continuity Roadmap for the resumption of services across the health system.
As the system continues to deliver Covid-19 and non-Covid 19 care side-by-side over a more prolonged period, my Department and the HSE will continue to work closely together to protect essential non-Covid 19 acute care and progress the provision of more routine non Covid-19 care.
In regard to the specific query raised by the Deputy regarding the number of inpatients cared for by hospital in each of the years 2016 to 2019 and to date in 2020, as this is a service matter, I have asked the HSE to investigate the matter and provide you with a direct response.