This year the HSE’s Winter Plan has been developed within the context of delivering essential healthcare in a COVID-19 environment. A range of initiatives will be undertaken to support this work, which will aim to enhance community capacity and decrease acute hospital demand. Through the prioritisation of Primary Care and Community Services, we will advance the goals of Sláintecare and mitigate the impact of COVID-19.

This plan, which is supported by the allocation of an additional €600m, seeks to support improved patient care in hospitals and in the community while keeping our staff and those who use our services safe in the midst of a global pandemic. Key initiatives within the Winter Plan include:

  • Additional acute bed capacity;
  • Additional home support packages;
  • Additional HSE procured private bed capacity;
  • Additional intermediate care beds, proposals for acute hospital egress; and
  • Additional Community Healthcare Networks, Community Specialist Teams (Older Persons and Chronic Disease).

Speaking today CEO of the HSE Mr. Paul Reid said;

This winter is going to be more difficult than any we’ve ever faced before. We are living with COVID-19, we are living differently, however we have planned differently and we have to take confidence in our Winter Plan. By ensuring agility and innovative healthcare measures, we can prioritise the health and wellbeing of our staff and the public, through the provision of healthcare pathways in the community and in our hospitals.

I am asking the public to follow the public health advice, the worst thing we can do is to get complacent. I am also asking those within the priority groups to ensure they get the flu vaccine and give themselves the best opportunity to stay well this winter.

Speaking today, Anne O Connor, HSE Chief Operations Officer said;

For the forthcoming winter period, we are focusing on the resumption of health services, while preparing for the expected pressures associated with winter and delivering services in the context of the continuing presence of COVID-19. Guidance, new processes, and infrastructure, will be critical to supporting the resumption of service delivery.

In addition, a Community First approach to the delivery of care will be central to delivering safe, efficient and effective services through winter and beyond. Service delivery will be re-oriented towards general practice, primary care and community-based services.

The Winter Plan 20/21 is available on  For further information see

The Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly TD, has welcomed publication of the HSE’s Winter Plan for 2020/21.

This Winter is expected to be particularly challenging due to the global COVID-19 pandemic. The Government’s determination to meet this challenge is demonstrated by our decision to invest an additional €600 million in health services this winter. Our healthcare workers have worked tirelessly throughout this pandemic, and this investment will support them as they care for their patients, both those that have COVID-19 and those that have other health needs.

The €600 million will be used to support the roll-out of Winter specific measures including:

  • Additional Community Healthcare Networks and Community Specialist Teams (Older Persons and Chronic Disease);
  • Additional intermediate care beds;
  • Additional access to diagnostics for GPs;
  • Additional acute bed capacity;
  • Additional home support packages;
  • Additional private bed capacity.

The Minister said:

We are in unprecedented times and the large amount of funding allocated by the government this year reflects that. I am glad to see the HSE commitment to reducing the number of patients on hospital trolleys as well as an increase in the number of beds. But, as we know, healthcare is not just about care in hospital settings. This Winter Plan aims to enable patients to be seen more easily in the community setting when possible. Some €138 million of the Winter Plan funding is being invested in home care and home supports this winter, with an additional 4.7 million extra home care hours.

Minister Donnelly welcomed the additional supports in the Plan for people at greater risk including older people, those who are homeless, and those with chronic illnesses.

He said:

The rollout of Community Specialist Teams to support older people and those with chronic disease is hugely positive. These teams will help them to stay at home or, if they need hospital care, to get home more quickly afterwards. The plan also gives GPs better access to diagnostics, which will have a positive impact by reducing waiting times for patients and reducing demand in our emergency departments.


Key initiatives within The Winter Plan:

  • It is proposed to open an additional 251 acute beds and 89 Sub Acute beds in Q4 2020 and an additional 232 acute beds in Q1 2021.
  • The ongoing provision of COVID-19 Community Assessment Hubs and the extension of these to incorporate the treatment of acute respiratory illness via Acute Respiratory Assessment & Treatment Hubs.
  • There are currently 7 Community Assessment Hubs operation within 5 Community Healthcare Organisations with a further 3 on standby to open should demand increase. The plan is to have 20 hubs in total available from January to March.
  • Three categories of technology solutions encompass 28, large individual projects within the overall programme:
  1. Key COVID-19 Solutions
  2. Service Continuity and Transformation Solutions
  3. Key Enablers

Some of the projects that will directly support the recovery and winter pressure requirements include:

  • Enterprise Appointment Scheduler;
  • National Waiting List Management;
  • Analytics and reporting;
  • Health Performance Visualisation Platform;
  • ePharmacy & ePrescribing;
  • Immunisation;
  • Home Support Management System;
  • Residential Care Management System; and
  • Community Hub Management System

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