Health services are expecting a very busy few days ahead, particularly in relation to alcohol-related injuries.
According to the HSE, St Patrick's Day tends to be a particularly busy time anyway, but this is especially the case when it falls over a weekend period.
Emergency medicine consultant, Dr Gerry McCarthy, said that unfortunately, Emergency Departments (EDs) expect to see ‘a significant number of patients presenting due to alcohol-related injuries and illness' over the long weekend.
"We see a lot of people presenting with injury or illness having had too much to drink and unfortunately that can put additional pressure on the system. We know that most of these cases could have been avoided, so we are asking everyone to be mindful and if they are drinking alcohol, to be aware of the dangers and consequences of too much," he commented.
While he emphasised that all patients who present to EDs in the coming days will be seen and treated, he warned that those with non-urgent injuries may face long waiting times.
Meanwhile, St Patrick's weekend is also a very busy time for the National Ambulance Service (NAS). According to the service's director, Martin Dunne, ‘typically, the NAS will see an increase in callouts to alcohol and other related incidents'.
"We are reminding people that, just because you are brought to hospital in an ambulance, it does not mean you will be seen quicker at the ED. While we fully appreciate that this is a very special celebratory weekend in our national calendar and we appreciate that everyone will want to enjoy their weekend to its fullest, we appeal to everyone to do so in a safe and enjoyable way," he said.
Dr Vida Hamilton, who is the HSE Acute Hospitals National Clinical Advisor, also reminded people to never drink and drive and if you are on medication, to ‘make sure you know the potential side-effect of alcohol before you decide to have a drink'.
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