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Health system ‘hurt’ after two years of coronavirus

HSE chief Paul Reid said the service remains under pressure.

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HSE chief Paul Reid said the health service remains under pressure (PA)

HSE chief Paul Reid said the health service remains under pressure (PA)

HSE chief Paul Reid said the health service remains under pressure (PA)

The Covid-19 pandemic has “hurt” the Irish health system, the HSE chief executive said as he stressed the need to learn the lessons of the last two years.

In the first HSE briefing since the Government announced a major easing of Covid-19 restrictions last Friday, Paul Reid said the health system has learned a lot since 2020.

While the HSE chief said the passing of the worst of the Omicron wave has brought “relief” to health workers, the health system is still under pressure.

There are 711 patients with Covid-19 in Irish hospitals, with 74 in intensive care.

This week, 4,800 staff remain absent due to Covid-19.

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HSE chief Paul Reid said there is ‘relief’ the Omicron wave has peaked, but the pandemic is not over (PA)

HSE chief Paul Reid said there is ‘relief’ the Omicron wave has peaked, but the pandemic is not over (PA)

PA

HSE chief Paul Reid said there is ‘relief’ the Omicron wave has peaked, but the pandemic is not over (PA)

Mr Reid said: “The health service is hurt over that two-year period. Nobody could go through all of those waves and the impact of a cyber attack and not acknowledge it has hurt the health system.

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“There will be a longer tail for us out of this. So as we are experiencing a great lift in society, our hospital system in particular still has to deal with a long tail out of this process and the effects that it has.”

However, Mr Reid also pointed to more positive statistics.

He said 53% of hospitalised patients were in for an initial diagnosis of Covid, with the rest diagnosed initially for a different illness before being confirmed to have the virus.

Mr Reid also said lessons learned during the pandemic will form the basis for future reform of Ireland’s fragile health service.

“I think building the infrastructure on the testing and tracing and the vaccination programmes overall demonstrated that capacity and agility of the health system.

Mr Reid said Ireland needs to “utilise” a single health system.

“Yes, we do have a private and a public health system in Ireland,” he said.

“The private capacity did play a very key role with us throughout the pandemic. I do see them as part of the solution as we go to address some of the waiting lists.”

Mr Reid, praising staff, warned Covid has not gone away.

“I don’t think you’d hear anybody in the health system overall say it’s over,” he said.

While he stressed that people need to enjoy more normal lives, he cautioned the virus is “still with us”.


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