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children's health ireland

Dublin children's hospitals operator warns facilities in the capital are 'under extreme pressure'

The CHI operator said that staff at children’s hospitals are going ‘above the call of duty’ to care for sick children

CHILDREN’S HOSPITALS ACROSS Dublin are under extreme pressure due to the high number of sick children presenting in emergency departments, and the number of very sick children already receiving care. 

Children’s Health Ireland is saying that staff at Temple Street, Crumlin, Tallaght and Connolly hospitals are experiencing extreme pressure in demand for services, and they are asking families to please attend local hospitals and care centres in cases of less severe illness where possible to help ease the situation. 

CHI Clinical Director Dr Ike Okafor said the situation has come about due to a “perfect storm” of high levels of viruses in the community, and because children who were born during appropriate lockdown measures during Covid-19 are in many cases experiencing these illnesses for the first time. 

“We also have some very sick babies presenting to our ED’s who need acute care. We need to concentrate our resources on these sickest children,” Okafor said. 

“Management and clinical teams are exploring all options to support safe staffing in our Emergency Departments, critical care and wards.

“We have already deployed staff across our sites and can’t thank each staff member enough for what they are doing to keep our hospitals functioning. It is beyond the call of duty,” he added. 

CHI further advised that the flu vaccine helps to protect children against flu, and that children and young people between 2 and 17 can get it for free at a local GP or pharmacy. 

A rise in flu, Group Strep A and respiratory syncytial virus cases has added to the pressure on the health service this winter. 

Most Group Strep A infections are mild and can be treated through antibiotics. 

Invasive Group A Strepoccurs (iGAS) occurs when the bacteria gets into parts of the body where it is not normally found, such as the lungs or bloodstream. Though cases are uncommon, it can cause serious illness and be fatal. 

A child in Ireland has passed away from iGAS, it was confirmed today, following the news that a child died from an illness linked to the bacterial infection Strep A in Belfast. 

The CMO Professor Breda Smyth has said that it is important for parents to know that the majority of cases of Group Strep A are mild infections, and can be treated with antibiotics. 

The Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) has been notified of 55 iGAS cases in Ireland this year, 21 if which were reported since the beginning of October, four of which were in children. 

You can read more about the symptoms of the bug here. 

RSV is a common respiratory diseases that usually casues mild, cold-like symptoms, with most people recovering in a week or two, according to the HSPC. 

A rise in RSV rates occurs every year around winter. The virus can be serious in some cases especially for older adults and infants. 

It causes colds and coughs every year and is the most common cause of bronchiolitis in infants and is an important cause of severe respiratory illness among children under 2 years of age, according to the HSPC website. 

Last month Health Minister Stephen Donnelly expressed concern at reports from CHI on “how sick some children are getting with RSV at the moment.” 

He added that cases tend to spike around this time of year, while acknowledging that children’s hospitals are experiencing very real pressures at the moment, especially in emergency departments. 

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