Minister Feighan Welcomes Publication of HSE Winter Plan.

Minister Feighan Welcomes Publication of HSE Winter Plan.

Fine Gael TD for Sligo, Leitrim, South Donegal and North Roscommon and Minister for State at the Department for Health Frank Feighan has welcomed the publication of the HSE’s Winter Plan for 2020/21.

The Minister said: “This Winter is expected to be particularly challenging due to the global COVID-19 pandemic. The Government’s determination to meet this challenge is demonstrated by our decision to invest an additional €600 million in health services this Winter.

Our healthcare workers have worked tirelessly throughout this pandemic, and this investment will support them as they care for their patients, both those that have COVID-19 and those that have other health needs.”

The €600 million will be used to support the roll-out of Winter specific measures including:

• Additional Community Healthcare Networks and Community Specialist Teams (Older Persons and Chronic Disease);
• Additional intermediate care beds;
• Additional access to diagnostics for GPs;
• Additional acute bed capacity;
• Additional home support packages;
• Additional private bed capacity.

The Minister said: “We are in unprecedented times and the large amount of funding allocated by the government this year reflects that. I am glad to see the HSE commitment to reducing the number of patients on hospital trolleys as well as an increase in the number of beds. But, as we know, healthcare is not just about care in hospital settings.

This Winter Plan aims to enable patients to be seen more easily in the community setting when possible. Some €138 million of the Winter Plan funding is being invested in home care and home supports this winter, with an additional 4.7 million extra home care hours.”

When discussing areas which fall under his own portfolio Minister Feighan welcomed the additional supports in the Plan for people at greater risk including older people, those who are homeless, and those with chronic illnesses.

He said: “The rollout of Community Specialist Teams to support older people and those with chronic disease is hugely positive. These teams will help them to stay at home or, if they need hospital care, to get home more quickly afterwards. The plan also gives GPs better access to diagnostics, which will have a positive impact by reducing waiting times for patients and reducing demand in our emergency departments.”

The Minister said: ‘Covid-19 has highlighted the vulnerability of people who are homelessness and in addiction. They are a group with complex health needs. The HSE Winter Plan will continue the protective public health measures that were developed during Covid-19 for the medically vulnerable homeless population. It also will expand GP services for people who living in emergency accommodation in Dublin and regional centres. A third priority is to provide continuity of care for people who are homeless who may require emergency hospital treatment during the winter months.’

Minister Feighan concluded: ‘The Winter Plan is a first step in delivering on the commitment in the Programme for Government to increase HSE funding for targeted interventions for people who are homeless and in addiction.’

Frank Feighan