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'in peak crisis' Medic's desperate plea to the public as hospitals battle to fight Covid-19 ‘carnage’

The doctor said that nurses, medics and support staff in Cork University Hospital (CUH) are now "out on their feet" due to exhaustion in trying to cope.

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More than 1800 patients are being treated in Irish hospitals for the virus. Photo: Liam McBurney/PA Wire

More than 1800 patients are being treated in Irish hospitals for the virus. Photo: Liam McBurney/PA Wire

More than 1800 patients are being treated in Irish hospitals for the virus. Photo: Liam McBurney/PA Wire

A junior doctor warned that medical staff have been battling to cope with "carnage" in Irish hospitals since Christmas because of the explosion in Covid-19 cases.

The doctor said that nurses, medics and support staff in Cork University Hospital (CUH) are now "out on their feet" due to exhaustion in trying to cope with the combination of soaring case numbers and roster pressure due to personnel being off work.

CUH is one of six acute hospitals in Ireland struggling to cope with more than 100 Covid-19 cases.

As of this morning, 1,838 patients are being treated in Irish hospitals for the virus.

More than 170 patients have required intensive care treatment – putting enormous pressure on the national emergency treatment system.

At one point, more than 140 CUH staff including 100 nurses were off work having either tested positive for the virus or been a close contact of a positive case.

A further 14 Irish hospitals each have 50 or more cases of the virus.

The CUH junior doctor – who asked to be unnamed – said staff were called to a meeting and briefed that they were now facing "the peak crisis of the entire pandemic".

"There are times you look around and you wonder how much more pressure the system can take. You can see the strain on the faces of doctors and nurses," she said.

"It has been very tough. It was tough last April and May when the first wave peaked but this has been something else altogether."

Even medical rotations have effectively been suspended as doctors struggle to cope with the demands of soaring patient numbers.

On Tuesday, patient numbers spiraled at CUH to the point where the hospital was one of three nationwide which had no available critical care bed capacity.

Letterkenny became the first Irish hospital to trigger its "last resort" option – asking staff who had gone off work because of being designated a close contact of a positive case to return to duties once they were not symptomatic and were subject to precautionary tests.

"The commitment of doctors, nurses, hospital support staff and managers has been incredible – but you can see the toll it is taking on everyone," she said.

"I left a ward a few days ago and went into a store room to find a nurse crying. I still don't know if it was exhaustion, stress or worry about a loved one with Covid."

Junior doctors have borne the brunt of the pandemic third wave by working longer hours, extra shifts to cover for sick colleagues and postponing leave.

"A few of my classmates opted to work as junior doctors in Australia and New Zealand and their work demands are like night-and-day compared to ours.

"When I chat to them on social media and explain what it has been like here since Christmas they just can't believe it – and some of them worked here throughout the first wave of the virus."

The junior medic has a simple plea for the public.

"Please listen to the Government and HSE advice – obey the rules, socially distance, wear a mask and wash your hands regularly. All of this carnage could have been avoided if people had just done what they were asked.

"Hospitals just cannot take this kind of pressure of numbers.

"Nurses and doctors have been doing everything in their power but there is a limit to the strain the system can take."


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