| 4.8°C Dublin

critical care Covid patients could fill over half of ICU beds in next two weeks with rise of cases expected

The HSE’s winter plan is forecasting a big rise in Covid-19 patients who may need to be in critical care at the end of this month

Close

Dr Catherine Motherway (right), intensive care specialist at University Hospital Limerick, said her hospital is now having to activate surge intensive care capacity with 13 Covid-19 patients seriously ill. Photo: Gerry Mooney

Dr Catherine Motherway (right), intensive care specialist at University Hospital Limerick, said her hospital is now having to activate surge intensive care capacity with 13 Covid-19 patients seriously ill. Photo: Gerry Mooney

Dr Catherine Motherway (right), intensive care specialist at University Hospital Limerick, said her hospital is now having to activate surge intensive care capacity with 13 Covid-19 patients seriously ill. Photo: Gerry Mooney

Covid-19 patients could take up more than one in two of the country’s scarce intensive care beds in just a fortnight with serious implications for other people in medical need, it emerged yesterday.

The HSE’s winter plan is forecasting a big rise in Covid-19 patients who may need to be in critical care at the end of this month, occupying up to 164 of the 301 permanent intensive care beds.

It comes as a leading intensive care consultant said doctors may have to “beg, borrow and steal” staff from other parts of the hospital to look after seriously ill patients in additional “surge” intensive care beds which are now having to be set up to cope with the demand.

Dr Catherine Motherway, intensive care specialist at University Hospital Limerick, told the Irish Independent her hospital is now having to activate surge intensive care capacity with 13 Covid-19 patients seriously ill.

“We will surge to the best of our ability. We will beg, borrow and steal from other services,” said Dr Motherway, who added it was essential that care for non-Covid patients, including those with cancer, is maintained.

Dr Motherway pointed out Covid-19 patients tend to have a longer stay in intensive care.

Between April and November around two-thirds of Covid-19 patients in intensive care are unvaccinated, a proportion of whom are overweight.

She said she had seen no young, healthy, fully vaccinated patients in intensive care and the higher risk among those double jabbed is to people with underlying conditions and older age groups.

Earlier, the Mater Hospital in Dublin said it was activating surge intensive care plans because of the huge demands it is facing this week which has forced the cancellation of some outpatient and inpatient procedures and surgery.

It comes as another 4,570 new cases of Covid-19 were reported yesterday. The ­number of Covid-19 patients in hospital jumped by 40 to 622.

Of these 117 were very ill in intensive care, many fighting for their lives on ventilators, an increase of 11 since Sunday.

The combination of Covid-19 pressures and winter illnesses meant that just 94 beds were free across the country yesterday.

Scores of waiting list patients had their procedures cancelled, despite waiting for years in some cases, and this looks set to continue.

Sunday World Newsletter

Sign up for the latest news and updates

This field is required This field is required

HSE chief operations officer Ann O‘Connor said more Covid-19 patients admitted to hospital are very sick and as of yesterday 81 were on a ­ventilator.

At the same time hospitals are having to struggle with 3,800 staff absent due to Covid-19 related issues, a rise of 1,000 in just a week.

The HSE’s winter plan – with funding of €77m and covering the period from October to March – said another 143 hospital beds are due to be opened by the end of this year, with another 62 then planned for March.

However, the HSE plan said that modelling figures – which do not include waning immunity among the fully vaccinated – suggest that between 152 and 164 Covid-19 patients may need critical care by the end of this month.

Between 513 and 615 Covid-19 patients may be in general wards.

It plans to continue the formula used last winter of diverting public patients to private hospitals which will provide around 1,100 bed days a week as a safety valve to look after the most critical non-Covid patients.

More supports will be provided in the community to support people and reduce their risk of ending up in ­hospital.

But there continues to be a high number of over-75s attending and being admitted to hospital and overcrowding in some hospitals, with patients on trolleys an inevitability.

The plan will seek to maximise the use of Covid-19 vaccination centres and they could be used to provide regular non-Covid immunisations for school children.

The HSE will continue to offer testing and tracing, with surge capacity during the winter period catering for more than 25,000 swabs a day.

However, the plan is that next year it will be scaled down and move away from testing people with minimal or no symptoms towards more targeted testing led by clinical and public health needs.

Download the Sunday World app

Now download the free app for all the latest Sunday World News, Crime, Irish Showbiz and Sport. Available on Apple and Android devices


Top Videos





Privacy