Hospital provides advice and guidance to patients for the winter period

Poster for Release(20th December 2017) ‘Know where to go when ill’ is the message to patients and public, as part of the next phase of the ‘Are You Winter Ready Campaign’ – a pilot initiative between Dublin Midlands Hospital Group (DMHG) and Tallaght Hospital.

This phase of the campaign is focused on raising awareness of where to go and how to access health services in the local community. With hospitals and their emergency departments (EDs) now entering the busiest period of the year, it is more important than ever for people to be aware of the community health services available to them in circumstances where their injuries and symptoms are less severe.

The key messages of the initiative are captured in an infographic and poster setting out all the options open to patients which has been distributed to GPs and community health service in the Tallaght Hospital catchment area and is available for download on

Health services available to patients and public in the Tallaght area include:
- Local pharmacies, who can provide support and advice to patients dealing with many common winter illnesses such as colds, the flu or winter vomiting. They are an important community health resource. Many of these pharmacies also have extensive opening hours, making them widely accessible;
- GPs are another vital resource in diagnosing and treating patients with a broad range of conditions such as chest infections. They can also provide prescriptions for medications to effectively treat a range of conditions;
- Ensuring that you are registered with your local GP is also an essential starting point for all;
- Linked to having a GP, is the need to know your local GP ‘out of hours’ contact details. Patients conditions can often flare up or worsen at night or over the weekend, so again knowing where to go for treatment in the community outside of hours is also very important; and
- Finally, with flu now circulating in the community both GPs and pharmacists can administer the flu vaccination to increase your protection against this virus.

DMHG and Tallaght Hospitals public information winter campaign, particularly the emphasis on encouraging patients to access community health services where appropriate, is an acknowledgment of the challenges all hospitals face this winter in ensuring that patients are treated in an effective and timely manner. The campaign also highlights the HSE website as a key resources for people to help treat common winter illness.

All EDs, including that at Tallaght Hospital, are stretched over the winter resulting in patients with less severe injuries and symptoms potentially having to wait an extended period to be seen.

To meet this challenge, Tallaght Hospital has introduced a number of measures in recent months to ensure patient care and safety is maintained throughout the coming busy winter period. These measures include:

Better and improved community integration so people requiring access to step down community care can be facilitated as quickly as possible;
- Home by 11am initiative
- Improved patient flow pathways specifically focussing on the growing over 75’s population.
- The focus areas this year is in addition to an improved ED environment, which was completed last year following a €5M investment.

Commenting on the launch of the ‘Are You Winter Ready’ campaign, David Slevin, CEO of Tallaght Hospital noted: ‘All of us are acutely aware that the number of patients on trolleys over the winter period is likely to remain high this winter. However, while our ED have a lot of people for which treatment in hospital is essential, for others with less severe injuries or symptoms there are healthcare services in the community which are better equipped to effectively treat these patients. That is why this phase of the campaign is so important. It is critical that public and patients know where to go and how to access community services, in the alternative to attending an ED.  
The benefit for patients, with less severe conditions, is in ensuring that they are diagnosed and treated more quickly in a more appropriate setting, avoiding potentially long waiting times in the ED. Equally, for hospitals and their staff it ensures that patients with the greatest needs are seen and treated in shorter time frame and that overcrowding and the need for trolleys is reduced. We feel working with health partners such as GPs and community health care partners is essential to spread this message and this is our priority”.

DMHG Chief Operating Officer, Trevor O’Callaghan, noted: “The winter period provides for a challenging period for hospitals, particularly in our EDs. We want to encourage everyone to better manage their health and stay healthy in the first instance and thereafter, be informed of the health services available in their communities, how to access them, and where, depending on their condition, is most appropriate for them.

This message is about ensuring that those with the greatest clinical needs can be treated in our EDs, in the fastest time, and those with less severe conditions can be cared in other healthcare settings. This in no way seeks to discourage patients from attending our EDs, where clearly necessary, but rather, for some with less severe conditions to first consider, where they can best be treated.”

Note to editors:
“Know where to go” and the Winter Checklist infographics are attached.

About Dublin Midlands Hospital Group
The Dublin Midlands Hospital Group comprises seven hospitals: St James’s Hospital, Coombe Women’s and Infants University Hospital, Tallaght Hospital, St Luke's Oncology Radiation Network, Naas General Hospital, Midland Regional Hospital Portlaoise and Midland Regional Hospital Tullamore. Encompassing the counties of Dublin, Kildare, Laois and Offaly, the DMHG has a catchment population of 800,000, with over 11,000 staff.