The chief executive of the HSE Paul Reid has warned it is going to be a “very challenging” winter for the health service.
Speaking on Newstalk Breakfast, Mr Reid outlined the current situation with Covid-19 figures after it was confirmed there were 393 being with the virus in hospital on Sunday night, 74 of whom were in intensive care units, a rise of 23 per cent.
In the last four days the number of cases has increased from 1,500 to 2,000 per day, Mr Reid added. Of the 74 patients in intensive care, 67 per cent were unvaccinated and three per cent were partially vaccinated, he said.
Mr Reid also pointed out that of the 74 in intensive care, 58 per cent were aged over 50 and 40 per cent were in the 15-49 age group, highlighting the risk of serious illness for those who were not vaccinated.
“It’s going to be a very difficult winter. Our staff are exhausted,” Mr Reid said.
A number of initiatives were going to be introduced to cope with the pressures on the health service during this “challenging time”, he added.
The measures included a procurement agreement with private hospitals, providing 1,000 bed days per week for non-Covid care, along with extra capacity for operating theatres and clinics and the National Treatment Purchase Fund. There would also be a focus on treatment in the community and keeping people safely at home.
Mr Reid repeated calls for anyone who is not already vaccinated to do so: “No one will be left behind”.
Vaccination clinics are now available in colleges around the country and the HSE is also working with not-for-profit organisations in order to ensure vulnerable people can get the vaccine.
Covid continued to have a “disproportionate” effect on the health service, Mr Reid said, adding that while numbers were “steady” he would prefer to see them coming down.