An intensive care consultant has called for the Government to double the number of ICU beds as the health service grapples with “old infrastructure”.
Dr Catherine Motherway said there is still significant work to do in critical care in Ireland, and that plans to improve the system need to be “accelerated”.
She told the HSE’s briefing on Friday that hospitals need to continue testing every patient coming into the system.
“We still have significant work to do in critical care in Ireland. We have always known and advocated for more beds – we need to double our ICU capacity and we need to do that properly,” she said.
“We have old infrastructure in most ICUs. We need an increase in isolation ICU bed capacity and the HSE have been advocating for this for some time and we need to ensure we try and accelerate those plans going forward.
“We need to make sure we continue to test every patient coming into the hospital and ensure we don’t mix streams.
“We have a Covid suspect stream and a non-Covid stream. We need to get back to doing as much elective surgery as is possible.
“We know the winter is difficult – it’s always difficult in Ireland. We always have an increase in respiratory diseases and in capacity, and we see that in the trolley figures and we see it when we have to cancel elective surgery.”
Dr Motherway also said that the HSE has written to the Government, calling for more critical care nurses to be recruited and trained as they are a “scarce resource”.
She added: “In critical care the positives are we did not exceed capacity and or mortality outcomes appear good.
“We have, by now, redeployed and trained several hundred additional staff which will be of benefit to us going forward should there be a subsequent surge and we have to surge again as time moves on and this pandemic makes its way around the world.”
She said the Irish health service has been involved in international research projects and has made the data of 600 patients available for research to learn more about the disease.
More than 30 patients have also been recruited into clinical trials of various drugs and treatments, she added.
COVID19 (coronavirus) weekly update from OâBrien Centre for Science, UCD https://t.co/ltmufQvpsa— HSE Ireland (@HSELive) June 12, 2020
Meanwhile, HSE boss Paul Reid said that the cost of dealing with the outbreak of Covid-19 could amount to more than 1.8 billion euro.
He said the biggest cost is around PPE as hospitals, residential facilities and GP services all need to be supplied with equipment.
HSE chief operations officer Dr Anne O’Connor said that 10 million pieces of PPE was delivered to facilities on Thursday.
“We delivering to 672 sites and more than a third of those are residential care,” she added.
“PPE is continuing to be a very big focus for us.
“In terms of our addictions services, we have seen an increase in people who are now on opioid substitute treatment (OST) and that has gone up considerably in the last few months.
“That is presenting a challenge in how we deal with that in a Covid world for people who require our addiction services.”