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Public urged to consider all pathways as Emergency Departments remain busy

With Emergency Departments across the country facing sustained pressure, health services are urging the public to consider all care options.

People attending at EDs are treated in order of priority and this is leading to longer wait times for less urgent cases. 

Prof John O’Donnell, Consultant in Emergency Care at University Hospital Galway stresses that anyone in need of urgent care would be treated as a priority, but is urging the public to consider whether ED was the right pathway for their care needs.
“We face ever increasing pressures on our health service and in particular on our emergency department. In winter we have an increase number of winter related illness and admissions. Congestion in the emergency department as a result can lead to long waiting times for patients to be seen.

“When somebody presents to an emergency department, they're initially triaged, which means that the time critical cases are seen first and these would include conditions such as chest pain, shortness of breath, stroke, significant injury significant pain but this means that other patients may have to wait,” he added.

Áine McNamara Area Director of Public Health, Department of Public Health, HSE West and North West added: “With the expected peak in flu, it is an extremely busy time in our hospitals and this will result in longer waiting times for those with less serious injuries. If you have an injury that you think may be less serious, take a minute to have a look at your nearest injury unit.

In the week of January 1, flu cases have increased by 39% in the space of two weeks and COVID-19 continues to circulate at high levels. It’s also not too late for anyone who has not yet been vaccinated for flu and COVID-19 to get their vaccine if they're eligible, because it will help prevent serious illness and it will help prevent the spread of these illnesses to people who are more vulnerable. You can go to the GP or pharmacy to get your vaccine, check the HSE website for more information and parents are reminded of the nasal spray vaccine now available for all 2-17 year olds”.

For people who need medical attention, Prof John O’Donnell reminded the public to consider all available care options, including injury units, their GP, and local pharmacy

“I would ask you to consider your healthcare needs before coming to an emergency department. And this might include seeing your local GP or GP out of hours service where you can be seen and assessed and treated. Visiting your local pharmacist where you can get advice and over the counter medication. For minor injuries, including, sprains, lacerations and suspected fractured limb bones, you can present to a HSE Minor Injury Unit where you will be seeing more quickly than an emergency department. And you will be accessed, sutured, x-rayed as necessary and can be referred on for follow up care if needed.

“For further information on your local minor injury unit, visit the website at We want to be here for you in an emergency, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, but please consider your healthcare needs and use our service appropriately,” he added.

Find information on when you should go to the ED

The article above is specific to the following Saolta hospitals:: 
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