Covid: 1,940 new cases as HSE faces winter of long hospital waiting lists

Covid: 1,940 New Cases As Hse Faces Winter Of Long Hospital Waiting Lists Covid: 1,940 New Cases As Hse Faces Winter Of Long Hospital Waiting Lists
There are 352 patients in hospital with the disease. Photo: PA
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There have been a further 1,940 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the Republic, the Department of Health said.

As of Saturday morning, there were 352 patients in hospital with the disease, including 74 in intensive care units.

It comes after 2,002 new cases were reported on Friday, which deputy chief medical officer Dr Ronan Glynn said reflected “an increased number of positive tests on specimens collected over the last three days.”

“However, the total number of Covid-19 cases reported in the last seven days (8,845 cases) is fewer than the previous seven days (9,115 cases),” he said.

“We will continue to monitor this situation closely to see if the trend in new infections over recent days is sustained,” Dr Glynn said.

Winter action plan


Meanwhile, the HSE's winter action plan will see Ireland's 761,000-strong hospital waiting lists reduced by only 37,000 by the end of this year.

The health service confirmed it is to offer “150,000 additional appointments, procedures, and/or removals [from waiting lists]” by December, which would barely cancel out the expected hike in waiting lists.

According to The Irish Examiner, there were almost 761,000 patients awaiting in-patient, outpatient or GI endoscopy treatment at the end of August.

The HSE said without action that figure would rise to 875,000.

However, it believes it can get the total down to 724,000 by the end of December by offering new appointments and validating the current waiting lists.

This involves contacting every waiting patient by letter to ask if they still require care.

That has caused controversy in the past, as patients and their GPs said they were moved off lists incorrectly. Some patients may have paid for private care themselves in the meantime and some may have died.

Among the changes expected from the winter plan are direct access to ENT (ear, nose, and throat) care and virtual trauma assessment clinics. It is also expected a fast-track triage system for physiotherapy will be included.

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A new online Health Performance Visualisation platform will be used so staff can see stress points like bed shortages and overcrowded emergency departments.

The initiative is in partnership with the Department of Health and the National Treatment Purchase Fund, which released €100 million for this purpose last year.

This effort comes ahead of a multi-annual waiting list plan to be launched later in the year by Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly.

That plan will be overseen by a new taskforce, part of a more targeted focus on Sláintecare reforms. Mr Donnelly told the Oireachtas Health Committee this week it will be modelled on the Covid vaccine taskforce.

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