Chris Luke, consultant in emergency medicine, was speaking after the HSE’s daily update showed there were no critical care beds available in Cork on Monday evening, and that there were just five general beds available.
Dr Luke said the arrival of the Covid-19 pandemic saw rapid expansion of critical care facilities — but that decades of bed shortages have not been reversed in the past six months.
“Covid has driven expansion but nonetheless we’re still short dozens of beds and dozens of specialist nurses,” he said. “I would imagine we’re short one or two dozen critical care beds in Cork alone and we’re probably short 50 to 100 nationally, at an estimate.
“We have a longstanding shortage which isn’t as bad as it was in March, thanks to HSE investment in beds and staff, but it’s still evident as a result of years of shortages.”
Yesterday, 432 confirmed cases of Covid-19 were reported to the Health Protection Surveillance Centre, including 41 in Cork.
“We’ve had a capacity issue for decades, certainly going back to the early ’90s when there was a significant cull of hospital beds based on dubious health forecasts at the time,” Dr Luke said. “We’ve never recovered from that. Nationally, we’re short around 4,000 to 10,000 general beds.”