HSE May Seek To Expand Use Of Private Hospital System Due To Covid Outbreak

The Health Service Executive (HSE) may seek to expand its use of private sector hospitals, as the system will soon be overwhelmed by Covid patients.

there are currently 622 coronavirus patients in hospital and 117 in intensive care.

With around 4,000 daily cases over the past few days, acute hospital HSE director Liam Woods said he was “very concerned”.

“There is at least a two week lag between a high number of cases in the community and what we are seeing in intensive care,” Woods told RTÉ Radio One. Morning Ireland.

“So I am very concerned that we are seeing high numbers in the last two weeks and that they are translating into increased pressure in intensive care. “

The worst-case scenario that has been predicted by Nphet is that there will be four to 500 Covid patients in intensive care and 2,000 in hospital.

“Our current intensive care capacity is 301 beds and if 200 were occupied by Covid we would need at least 100 more for all other purposes,” Mr Woods said.

“The public health system does not have the capacity to go up to four or 500 intensive care beds, it is not realistic.

“The challenge the system faces then is in making decisions about the nature of care and moving towards suboptimal care in terms of what is provided, so it is very important that we avoid that.

“We already peaked in January and the number was 218 in terms of intensive care surge and at this point we had another 100 patients in intensive care. “

The HSE acute care hospital director said mitigation measures, including the use of private facilities, will need to be used when Covid hospitalizations increase.

They will be used not only for intensive care, but also for urgent elective surgeries such as cancer care.

“The mitigation measures we can put in place that have helped before and which we are using now and which we will need to expand are our use of the private system,” said Mr Woods.

“There is a critical capacity there and also [it will be used] for urgent elective surgeries – and that’s something we’ve done before.

Mr Woods said those decisions would be made “long before” there are four or 500 Covid patients requiring intensive care.

He said joining the booster vaccination program is “very important” in reducing hospitalizations.

“The vaccinations and the booster campaign are very important, just over half of ICU patients with Covid are not vaccinated, so the possibility of getting vaccinated is still very high,” said Mr Woods.

When asked if a circuit breaker lockout might be necessary, he said: “References to the need to reduce and break the transmission of the virus in society is what we are facing.

“If you look at the cases overall, while those over 65 make up just over 9% of cases, they account for over 50% of hospitalizations.

“So it makes a lot of sense to focus on booster vaccines for older age groups and prioritize that with immunocompromised agents and healthcare workers. “

Visit our Covid-19 vaccine dashboard for updates on the vaccination program roll-out and the Ireland coronavirus case rate

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