HSE tackling Covid wave with ‘arm tied behind back’ over staff absences

HSE figures show 65 people with Covid-19 were being cared for at Cork city hospitals on Tuesday night.
HSE tackling Covid wave with ‘arm tied behind back’ over staff absences

Paul Reid said the number of people with the virus in ICU has dropped by 2% in the last week.

The number of people in hospital with Covid-19 continues to increase but the pace of admissions has slowed, the head of the Health Service Executive (HSE) has said.

Paul Reid said the number of people with the virus in ICU has dropped by 2% in the last week.

However, the volume of cases and pace of the rise over the last few weeks continues to put a strain on health services.

Mr Reid said it is having a huge effect on health workers, with almost 15,000 staff off work.

“It is really like tackling this wave with one arm tied behind our back, because currently that number is still holding around that figure but obviously we do expect to see an improvement over the next while”, Mr Reid said at a weekly HSE briefing on the Covid-situation yesterday.

Yesterday, 1,011 patients were in hospital with the virus. HSE figures show 65 people with Covid-19 were being cared for at Cork city hospitals on Tuesday night.

Mr Reid said there have been a few significant positive indicators.

“We are seeing a much lower level of hospitalisations in proportion to the daily case numbers that we would have seen in previous waves and previous variants.

“Secondly, the window of opportunity that we did have, prior to Christmas to vaccinate the particularly vulnerable elements of the population, has put us in stronger stead throughout this wave and has reduced the numbers of hospitalisations post-Christmas.”

He said the number of people admitted to ICU has remained stable, preventing the HSE from going into the surge capacity.

Speaking at the briefing, chief operations officer of the HSE Anne O’Connor said that emergency department attendances were down 7.1% on the previous week, up 19.1% on the same week last year and down 8.3% on 2020.

A total of 21,980 people attended emergency department this week.

There were 5,991 patients admitted from emergency departments in the past week.

A total of 2,976 patients aged 75 years and over attended emergency departments last week, of whom 1,637 were admitted.

In CUH, there were 177 presentations in the emergency department on Tuesday, up 46 on the same day in 2021.

Anne O’Connor said that hospitals in the west coast, midwest and south-south west have been under very significant pressure in terms of high level of attendance and the impact of staffing challenges.

She said that hospitals in these areas are “still in high difficulty in terms of staffing”.

She said that services are continuing to manage unscheduled care and Covid-19 and that many of these hospitals are doing very little elective activity.

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