The Minister for Health has been urged to work with Cork hospitals and HSE South to tackle healthcare bed capacity issues in the region.
Cork GP Dr Ronan Boland recently warned that the health sector in Cork will not cope with a major increase in Covid-19 cases this winter.
His stark warning comes amid rising cases in the Rebel County, and speculation that COrk could be moved to level three restrictions in a matter of hours.
Speaking in the Dáil today, Cork South Central TD Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire raised the issue with Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly.
He urged Minister Donnelly to work with the Cork hospitals and HSE South group to tackle bed shortages in the region.
“Many people in Cork are very concerned with the reports of a potential move into level three,” said Mr Ó Laoghaire.
“There is an awful lot of concern regarding pressure on our hospital beds.
“This week, Dr Ronan Boland told Claire Byrne’s RTÉ radio show that there were just three acute beds available between the Mercy and CUH to treat any acute case that may arise amongst Cork’s half a million population,” he added.
“Yesterday, the Mercy Hospital said that patients should seek care elsewhere due to pressure on its A&E system.
“It is clear that the hospital system here is already under severe pressure, and may struggle to cope with an influx of Covid-19 related cases.
“Will the Minister pick up the phone to the hospitals in Cork, the HSE South South West Community Health organisation, and the Hospital group, to see how beds can be procured?” asked Mr Ó Laoghaire.
“This includes in the community hospitals, and in step-down facilities, because that takes the pressure off the major acute hospitals like Mercy and the CUH.”
Mr Ó Laoghaire also called for the public to not be complacent at a “crucial point in time for Cork”.
“I would appeal to all in Cork, to take care, to be sensible, and to follow the public health guidelines,” he said.
“We know what ordinary citizens need to do to stop the spread: Wash your hands, keep your distance, and reduce your contacts – it’s six people from three houses indoors, and 15 from three outdoors.
“We must all make changes now to ensure that if it comes to a hard situation where it is you or a loved one who might need a hospital bed, that there will be one available,” he added.
“We need to do all we can to protect each other, especially the older and more vulnerable members of the community.
“We are calling on the HSE and the Minister to seek capacity urgently, so that the people of Cork have access to urgent care when they need it.”