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IAEM notes recent statements by Dr Leo Varadkar, Minister for Health, on the busyness of Irish Emergency Departments

IAEM welcomes new focus on busyness of Ireland’s Emergency Departments

The Irish Association for Emergency Medicine notes with interest the recent statement by the Minister for Health, Dr Leo Varadkar TD, regarding the days Ireland’s Emergency Departments (EDs) are at their busiest. The statement followed briefings and data provided by the Special Delivery Unit and suggests that EDs are most crowded on Wednesdays.

In EDs across the country, the busiest days of the week for new patient attendances are Monday and Tuesday with Wednesday, in fact, being significantly less busy. The reason that EDs are particularly crowded by mid week is that planned/elective activity is deliberately concentrated early in the week which is the very time EDs are naturally at their busiest. Not surprisingly, this means that by Wednesday the likelihood of a patient who requires emergency admission getting a hospital bed is much less than it is at the weekend when elective activity doesn’t generally take place.

Inpatient boarder numbers i.e. the number of admitted hospital inpatients waiting on ED trolleys for a hospital bed, which are rising significantly at present, are independent of ED performance and it is therefore important that hospital and system failings which give rise to ED crowding are not confused with genuine ED busyness related to managing new emergency attendances.

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