Press release – 28 October 2022
Children’s Hospitals in Dublin seeing almost double the number of patients to ED and UCC daily – sites under extreme pressure
Parents urged to care for sick children at home if possible this Winter
Children’s Health Ireland (CHI) is under extreme pressure, with busier than normal winter levels of activity since September 2022, following a pattern seen in other children’s hospitals internationally. CHI is seeing a 50 per cent increase in the number of children presenting to their Emergency Departments (ED’s) in Temple Street, Crumlin and Tallaght and Urgent Care Unit at Blanchardstown compared to the same period in 2019 (our busiest year on record). This is due to an early rise in seasonal respiratory illness and viruses. An average of 600 patients per day are attending the children’s hospitals in recent days (we would normally expect 300-400 patients per day). The vast majority of these children do not require medical review and parents are advised to consider caring for their child at home or explore other care pathways such as their GP or local pharmacy, if their child has milder symptoms and does not need emergency or urgent care.
A small proportion of children with severe symptoms caused by Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) and other seasonal respiratory viruses will require hospital admission to support them through the illness. For this reason, we are also witnessing significant pressure on our in-patients and intensive care bed capacity. CHI, like many other acute hospitals, are witnessing staffing shortages in frontline areas, further worsening the situation.
Dr Ike Okafor, Clinical Director, Children’s Health Ireland said; “Many Emergency Departments are currently overwhelmed but there has been a huge increase in the number of children presenting to CHI at Temple Street, Crumlin, Connolly and Tallaght. Like our colleagues overseas in other children’s hospitals – we are seeing the same pattern. We are in a crisis right now with the numbers of patients attending our EDs and UCC. Wait times are extremely long and our staff are doing their best but they are exhausted and we don’t have the space to accommodate the numbers presenting.
“Our GP colleagues are also under pressure at the moment so wait times are a little longer to see GP’s. It can be daunting minding a sick child at home, but Under The Weather is a great resource and I’d encourage parents to source information and guidance here.”
Dr Louise Baker, Consultant Paediatrician in Children’s Health Ireland said; “One of the biggest increases we’re seeing is in children with fever. Fevers are very common in children and usually aren’t serious. Furthermore, many parents may not be aware that it is safe to manage children with mild viral illnesses at home using over the counter remedies such as paracetamol and ibuprofen. Most of these children do not require medical intervention and are discharged home once their parents with advice and reassurance. However, this takes time and resources away from critically unwell children. With departments already under huge pressure, we need to make sure that our services are available for those children who are seriously unwell.”
To cope with this unprecedented increase in demand and the resulting pressure on our hospital capacity, CHI has reduced some planned elective and routine inpatient admissions in the coming weeks and over the Winter period. We apologise to patients and their families whose children may
have to have their procedures postponed at short notice. We are making every effort to ensure our patients are looked after and will reschedule these admissions at the soonest possible opportunity.
CHI wishes to apologise to any families who may have an increased wait for their child to be seen or admitted in one of our hospitals. We would urge that parents of children with mild symptoms should seek alternative pathways to enable children who require emergency or urgent care to be prioritised.
Notes to editor:
Spokespeople available. Please call the Press Office on 087 402 4940
Resources for parents: www.undertheweather.ie
Health supports for your child this Winter – poster attached
Visitor Restrictions across CHI
COVID in the clinical setting
What to expect when you arrive at ED
About Children’s Health Ireland: CHI at Connolly, CHI at Crumlin, CHI at Temple Street, CHI at Tallaght
Children’s Health Ireland (CHI) was established 1 January 2019. This saw Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital Crumlin, Temple Street Children’s University Hospital and paediatric services at Tallaght University Hospitals come together and integrate into one organisation to deliver healthcare to Ireland’s children, in preparation for the opening of the new children’s hospital in Dublin. CHI governs and operates acute paediatric services for the greater Dublin area and all national paediatric services, some of which are on an all-island basis. It is also the client for the new children’s hospital project, including its two new outpatient and urgent care centres. As an academic healthcare organisation, CHI is leading on the clinical and operational transformation of acute paediatric healthcare through our triple mission of integrated services, education and research and innovation.