Hospital services

Hospital services will be impacted by the high number of Covid cases

The HSE chief executive said the most difficult thing he has ever had to do in his job is to contact the families of healthcare workers who have died from Covid-19.

Speaking on Newstalk Breakfast, Paul Reid said he was a strong advocate for the healthcare worker booster vaccine.

However, he said that ultimately Niac (the National Advisory Committee on Immunization) is the expert in this area and should be guided by their advice.

Mr Reid said there had been an increase in the number of people registering for the vaccine in recent days, from 800 to 2,500 per day and that the HSE would pursue many initiatives to increase that use.

There had been a slight reduction in the number of hospitalizations for Covid-19 in recent days, but he expected the number of daily cases to continue to be “well above” 2,000.

He said those numbers would have an impact on hospital services.

Mr Reid called for increased awareness, but not increased anxiety, and urged people to continue to observe safety measures.

The advantage of the vaccination program was that people were protected, unvaccinated people are eight times more likely to end up in intensive care if they contract Covid, he warned.

Mr Reid said the impact of Covid on hospitals is not limited to the occupancy of beds, as wards must also be closed.

In addition, some hospitals need to reduce or cancel elective care, but there is good support from private hospitals, with the HSE taking 1,100 beds per week in private hospitals.

He said it could increase more during the winter.

456 admitted patients are waiting for beds this morning, according to the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organization (INMO).

A total of 379 patients wait in emergency departments across the country, while 77 are in wards elsewhere in hospitals.

56 patients were awaiting beds at Letterkenny University Hospital this morning, an increase of six patients from yesterday’s figures, while 48 are on carts at Galway University Hospital today.

There are 38 people waiting for a bed at Limerick University Hospital.

Yesterday, 499 were waiting for beds in hospitals across the country.

Over the past week, 14,758 new cases of Covid-19 have been identified – the fourth highest weekly total since the start of the pandemic.

There has also been a 27% increase in the number of patients admitted to hospital over the past two weeks, rising to 503 yesterday. Of these, 101 were in intensive care units (ICU).