Irish hospitals are facing high levels of staff illness, bed shortages and rising patient numbers this winter.
A detailed submission to the Oireachtas Health Committee this week from seven hospital groups, seen by the Irish Examiner, shows record numbers of patients attending most hospitals.
The submission also showed staff shortages linked to recruitment issues and Covid-19 leading to the cancellation of procedures, even in children's hospitals.
The South/SouthWest Hospital Group saw “significantly” more patients than in 2019, the last year of normal activity.
In August, Cork University Hospital saw 22.8 per cent more patients than in August 2019. In University Hospital Waterford, attendances increased by 38 per cent.
The group reported: “There are daily staffing shortages arising due to unplanned leave including Covid-19 leave."
On November 19th, there were 140 staff absent in University Hospital Kerry.
Community bed shortages, caused by the need to isolate patients with Covid, are delaying hospital discharges.
Nurses are particularly challenged by the “significant increase” in Covid-19 patients outside of of ICUs who need to be treated with non-invasive ventilation, averaging 10-15 per day.
Cork/Kerry Community Healthcare Organisation is down about 200 beds, according to the report. Galway University Hospital is down 35 beds due to Covid-safety measures.
Sligo University Hospital reported: “There is a poor skills mix in nursing due to a reliance on new/junior members of staff."
In Letterkenny, three of four emergency department consultant roles are filled by temporary staff.