Non Covid-19 health services are set to resume in hospitals as the numbers of people in ICU beds has decreased, the Health Service Executive boss has said.
Chief executive Paul Reid said the situation with Covid-19 is starting to improve as the numbers in ICU continue to trend downwards and are now 55% lower than the peak of 160.
Speaking at the HSE weekly Covid-19 briefing on Sunday, he said: “We can now commence non-Covid services in hospitals but it won’t be easy.”
He warned however that the health service cannot return to the way it was before the pandemic, saying: “What we cannot do in the next phase is max out the capacity of the Irish health service.”
He said there are now three main priorities in non-Covid healthcare; cancer treatments, time-dependent surgery including transplants and maximising the use of private hospitals.
He said while the HSE is starting to recommence regular hospital services we cannot go back to overcrowded hospitals as was the case before the pandemic.
“We need to keep capacity under 80% and protect the public and staff from Covid-19.”
Regarding the return to non-Covid services Mr Reid said cancer would be a priority as well as cardiovascular surgery and other treatments.
He said it was important that mental health, respite primary health care services also presume.
He said capacity in both the public and private healthcare services will be need to be used in future.
Private hospitals became part of the public health system in March for the duration of the coronavirus pandemic.
Some 2,000 beds, nine laboratories and thousands of staff have been drafted into the public system,
On Saturday, Ireland’s coronavirus death toll rose to 1,429 after a further 27 deaths were announced by the National Public Health Emergency Team.
There have 156 been new confirmed cases of the virus, taking the total in Ireland since the outbreak began to 22,541.
With lockdown measures due to ease slightly next week, he said testing had ramped up significantly as Ireland is on track to have the capacity to do 100,000 tests per week from May 18 onwards.
He said all 30,000 staff and the 28,000 residents in nursing homes have now been tested and labs now have a capacity to do in the region of 15,000 tests per day.
The time it takes for a test from swab to result is 2.4 days which is in line with many of the other countries overall and contact tracing was done within 1.5 days of that.
Meanwhile, Health Minister Simon Harris urged people not to bend or stretch the public health rules.
Good Sunday morning everyone! #Stayhome #Staysafe #Holdfirm. We got this - letâs finish the job. Weâd all never forgive ourselves if we let things slip backwards now #Covid19 #coronavirus pic.twitter.com/dUFKPgRczC— Simon Harris TD (@SimonHarrisTD) May 10, 2020
He tweeted on Sunday: “If you’re thinking of bending or stretching the public health rules – please don’t.
“And to anyone who is, remember this number: 72.
“The number of people in ICU with Covid-19 fighting for their life and health.”
He said, while people are looking forward to some restrictions being eased from May 18, people must stay the course.
“People can’t just think it’s OK to start that from now…. Bottom line is: it’s not.
“It’s dangerous. Every day counts.
“The reason these restrictions are in place until then: to save your life and keep your loved ones well.”