Intensive care consultant Dr Andrew Westbrook has described the cancellation of a transplant operation at the Mater Hospital last week as “symptomatic” of the crisis caused by the lack of ICU beds.
“That’s a very unfortunate situation, for the patient involved, for the patient’s family and for the donor and for the donor’s family,” he told RTÉ radio’s Morning Ireland.
The cancellation was symptomatic of the fact that the intensive care system in Ireland was under-resourced. There should be at least 550 ICU beds in the country, that was according to a report published 12 years ago, he said.
There had been a “slight increase” of 50 beds over the past year, there needed to be at least another 150 to 200 intensive care beds, that would just bring Ireland up to the “average” level in Europe.
“If we had that bed stock we could provide care for more acutely ill patients.”
Dr Westbrook pointed out that for every intensive care bed there had to be a fully trained team including at least six nurses.
The latest surge in coronavirus cases in Ireland is overwhelming many intensive care units, causing hospitals to run out of ICU beds in some locations.
The chief executive of the University of Limerick Hospital Group said on Friday that the ICU in the hospital was full, creating extra pressure for staff.
Collette Cowan said that by next Wednesday she believed all elective procedures will be paused as the hospital group prepares for a surge in Covid patients.