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‘Non-urgent’ patients told to stay away from Emergency Depts

Patients with non-urgent complaints have been asked to stay away from the West’s busiest Emergency Department, where waiting times are longer due to ‘sustained pressure’.

Professor John O’Donnell, Consultant in Emergency Care at University Hospital Galway, said anyone who needed urgent care would be treated as a priority, but he urged the public to consider alternatives to ED.

He said the health service, especially ED faced “ever increasing pressures”, and an increase in admissions due to winter-related illnesses.

“Congestion in the Emergency Department as a result can lead to long waiting times for patients to be seen,” he said.

Patients who arrive at ED are triaged, with the most critical cases seen first including conditions such as chest pain, shortness of breath, stroke, significant injury and significant pain, “but this means that other patients may have to wait,” Prof O’Donnell said.

The HSE said flu and Covid-19 are circulating at high levels and have increased pressure on UHG.

The latest figures figures from the Irish Nurses and Midwives’ Organisation show there were 58 patients on trolleys at UHG on Saturday morning, and there was one on a trolley at Portiuncula University Hospital in Ballinasloe.

Áine McNamara Area Director of Public Health, Department of Public Health, HSE West and North West said: “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.”

Ms McNamara and Prof O’Donnell reminded the public to consider all available care options, including injury units, their GP, and local pharmacy before presenting at ED.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune:

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