As the August bank holiday approaches the HSE is encouraging the public to consider all care options before attending Emergency Departments (EDs) or calling 112/999 for an ambulance as we need to protect these services for those patients who need urgent and emergency care.

This year, hospitals have reported record numbers of patients presenting at EDs for care and treatment, including a sharp increase in the number of patients who are seen and treated in the ED and then discharged without requiring admission to the hospital. Many of these patients could have been treated at other healthcare services such as Injury Units, GP and GP Out of Hours services and pharmacies.

As always, people who do require emergency care are encouraged to attend EDs where they will be prioritised. Patients who attend EDs for routine and non-urgent treatment are being advised that they will experience very long waiting times over the coming weekend and into early next week.

The HSE regrets this delay and is asking all to help our staff through a challenging time for our services by:

  • Considering all healthcare options before attending ED including Injury Units, GP services and pharmacies.
  • Only dial 112 or 999 for emergency care if there is a concern for serious illness or injury. Less urgent calls will face longer waits for an ambulance response.
  • Continuing to wear face masks and maintaining good hand hygiene practices when attending hospitals.
  • Abiding by all infection control measures including visiting restrictions in hospitals and hospital wards.

Please also bear in mind that the National Ambulance Service (NAS)  is extremely busy at present. NAS prioritises calls so the most seriously ill or injured receive the quickest response. Please consider other options as non-life-threatening calls will have longer wait times. In an emergency always call 112/999.

The HSE is also encouraging people to heed advice from An Garda Síochána and slow down this bank holiday weekend. Always wear a seatbelt, stop for a coffee and a nap if you are tired and never drink/take drugs and drive.

People should also be mindful of the dangers around waterways this weekend. Always ensure children are supervised while swimming, swim at lifeguarded waterways and never mix alcohol with water activities.

If you or someone else is seriously ill or needs urgent emergency care do not delay going to ED or dialling 999/112 for help.