ICU beds may be rationed for those with 'best chance of survival' at Cork hospital

ICU beds may be rationed for those with 'best chance of survival' at Cork hospital

In a memo, seen by The Echo, a senior hospital source informed GPs and healthcare workers that Bantry General was facing increased Covid-19 admissions and reduced staff as well as an outbreak of Covid-19 on the wards

ADMISSIONS to the intensive care unit (ICU) at a Cork hospital could be rationed and only offered to those with the best chance of survival following an outbreak at the hospital, GPs have been warned.

GPs were informed yesterday afternoon that Bantry General Hospital was under “extreme pressure” and that it could soon reach a point where ICU admissions are rationed.

In a memo, seen by The Echo, a senior hospital source informed GPs and healthcare workers that Bantry General was facing increased Covid-19 admissions and reduced staff as well as an outbreak of Covid-19 on the wards.

“BGH is currently under extreme pressure due to the number of severely ill patients with Covid-19 and reduced staff numbers,” the memo said. “In addition, we are in the middle of managing an outbreak on the wards.

“If a GP is contemplating referring someone for admission, the expected benefits of admission must outweigh the significant risks of admission to the current hospital environment.

“We may soon reach a point where ICU admissions are rationed and only offered to those with the best chance of survival,” the memo said.

“The situation is changing rapidly.” 

The memo also stated. “We strongly advise admission avoidance for all patients unless absolutely necessary.” The memo explained that Bantry General was on Monday afternoon “rapidly approaching full capacity of ICU beds in the region”.

The stark warning came around the same time as the latest Covid-19 figures were released, revealing almost 700 new cases of the virus in Cork alone.

Dr Ina Kelly
Dr Ina Kelly

Dr Ina Kelly, current chair of the Irish Medical Organisation’s (IMO) Public Health committee said:

“Public Health has been overwhelmed for weeks across the country amid the increase in cases.

“It’s usually during week two of Covid cases that people require hospitalisation and that’s what hospitals are seeing now.

“The level of hospitalisations is rising to an unmanageable level,” she added.

“While we can’t turn the clock back for the people who require hospitalisation now, we can prevent further cases and prevent even more hospitalisations.

“We need to stop the spread of Covid-19 and everyone has their part to play.” 

Another GP, based in West Cork, who received the memo told The Echo that doctors in the region are fearful hospitals will be “rapidly overwhelmed”.

He also said doctors could be forced to make “life-or- death” decisions in terms of admitting patients with the best chance of survival, and that the current situation resembles “battlefield medicine”.

The South/South West Hospital Group and HSE was contacted for comment. The group warned the public yesterday that emergency departments in the region are “extremely busy” and urged them, where possible, to only attend in emergency cases.

The hospital group has said that due to increased activity at the emergency department, patients may be delayed.

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