In a move to lessen delays at Mullingar hospital’s emergency department, the HSE has asked the public to use other layers of available care before coming to the hospital.
It is estimated up to 15,000 people each year could have sought medical attention elsewhere before adding to the load on the already stretched department.
“We would urge people to be aware of the various levels of health service which will make it easier to select the most appropriate and quickest way to get advice or help,” said James Conway, the assistant director of acute services for the region.
This came to light in a reply to Cllr Mick Dollard, after he made a representation to the HSE on behalf of some aggrieved constituents.
At the moment the emergency department has about 33,000 people a year come through its doors, 14,200 of whom are discharged that day.
This equates to 90 arrivals each day, 39 of whom are discharged without requiring admission.
“The hospital can experience busy periods in the emergency department [and] takes all necessary steps to deal with surges in attendances, including increasing the number of clinical rounds being undertaken to ensure that any patients who are ready to go home are discharged, and supported as necessary by community-based services,” continued Mr Conway.
Though he regrets any inconvenience that waiting to be seen can cause, he wanted to assure the public “that staff are endeavouring to minimise this”.
To help achieve a drop in this avoidable congestion he suggested that the public use one or more of the four layers of care available before coming to the emergency department.
“Many accidents occur at home, so a first aid kit that is well-stocked and easily accessible is important. A basic knowledge of first aid is also very useful, and both of these can help reduce the pain and trauma of an accident at home,” he explained.
“Then, for many people their local pharmacy is their first point of contact with the health service when they are ill, and pharmacists are a great source of sound judgement and advice,” he continued.
He went on to point out that most GPs provide an emergency service during normal clinic hours if a patient is unable to make it to the surgery for a regular appointment, and people should check with their regular doctor to find out if this is available to them.
Mr Conway then pointed out the fourth layer of pre-emergency care, the out-of-hours service, or MIDOC as it is known in Mullingar.
“This GP-run co-operative provides a quality clinical service for problems that require urgent care outside of normal hours,” he said.
In Mullingar this is available on (1850 ) 302702 from 6pm to 8am, Monday to Thursday, and 6pm to 8am, Thursday to Monday.
However, there was one, consistent piece of advice every doctor the Advertiser spoke to had for patients: “Leave the internet alone!”.