Hospital system operating at ‘surge capacity’ – Reid

The Chief Executive of the HSE has said the hospital system is tightening up as the numbers being treated for Covid-19 increases.

Speaking on Saturday with Katie Hannon, Paul Reid said: “We have formally gone into surge capacity.

“We are seeing families and young people being treated. This virus affects everybody.

“In terms of beds, we now have 313 available beds, up from 285 before surge capacity.”

There are 1,850 Covid patients in hospital today with 191 of those in ICU.

Yesterday, the Department of Health reported a further 50 Covid-related deaths and 3,498 new confirmed cases of the virus.

Mr Reid said: “We have now stood up our national critical care surge group.

“Individual hospitals are scaling up for surge capacity, where they cannot operate beyond that, we would mobilise ambulance transfer between hospitals, but that has not happened yet.”

He said there are around 250 people who are not in ICU, but still needed “significant supports such as oxygen”.

Mr Reid added: “In total, across the hospital system and community services we have close to 6,500 staff off work for Covid related reasons, with about 4,000 of those from hospitals, so it is a significant pressure.

“We have redeployed some teams to support ICU. I want to reassure people we are coping, if they need urgent care, we are there for you.”

Mr Reid said the HSE has had to suspend non-urgent care in hospitals.

“We have triggered the private hospital agreement and have about 125 beds supported in private hospitals for non-Covid care such as for heart or cancer patients,” he said.

Mr Reid said that nursing homes were under “significant pressure” and said that “about 25% of them would have outbreaks”.

He said: “The first ten days of the vaccination programme we took guidance from the National Immunisation Advisory Committee … that was a balance between healthcare staff and starting the programme in nursing homes.

“Our programme now for nursing homes is being accelerated this week and next week, by the middle of February, everyone should have had their second dose of the vaccine.”

Asked about of the forthcoming shortage of supply from Pfizer, Mr Reid said they “were not happy whatsoever” when the announcement was first made yesterday.

He said the Taoiseach made calls across Europe on it and “thankfully, it appears we are in a better place than we thought, it will have a much smaller impact”.