AS hospitals in Cork and around the country come under strain as a result of the latest wave of Covid-19, the Irish Hospital Consultants Association (IHCA) has said “not enough is being done to actually increase our public hospital capacity and put in place sustainable solutions to ensure the provision of timely care”.
There were 100 Covid-positive patients at Cork University Hospital and 25 Covid-positive patients at the Mercy University Hospital (MUH) as of 8pm on Thursday.
All theatre elective surgery has been cancelled at Bantry General Hospital.
Earlier this month MUH said: ‘Due to the rapid increase in the number of patients with confirmed Covid-19 being admitted to hospitals and the projected trend in admissions based upon community transmission levels, Mercy University Hospital have deferred non-time-dependent services including inpatient, day case and outpatient services.”
IHCA president Alan Irvine said cancelling scheduled surgeries, diagnostic investigations, and outpatient appointments “cannot be the go-to solution” to hospital capacity deficits.
“Once again, the massive capacity deficits in our public hospitals means that they cannot cope with the high number of people currently presenting at our emergency departments and the surge in Covid activity in hospitals, without having to cancel essential scheduled surgeries, diagnostic investigations, and outpatient appointments,” he said.
“There is continuous commentary about the health service being under pressure but other than short-term, unsustainable solutions, like cancelling scheduled essential care, not enough is being done.
"Cancelling essential surgeries will only increase record waiting lists even further.
“We recognise the need, after two years of the pandemic, to manage living alongside Covid-19 but at this point we should be in a much better position in terms of having the required hospital capacity to meet the current demand for care.
“However, in the absence of Government action to increase our public hospital capacity, the public may once again have to play its part in getting this latest surge under control.”
The IHCA is encouraging the 700,000 people yet to receive a booster vaccine dose to consider doing so.
An increased awareness among the public of the impact of this latest wave of the pandemic could also help protect the health service from buckling under the strain of record emergency presentations and increased Covid activity in Irish hospitals, the IHCA said.