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Covid wave

19,866 new Covid cases reported as consultants warn hospitals face increased pressure

As of 8am today, 1,466 COVID-19 patients are hospitalised, of whom 55 are in ICU.

LAST UPDATE | 25 Mar 2022

A HOSPITAL CONSULTANTS group is urging the public to use a higher degree of caution over the coming weeks given the current Covid-19 wave and the resulting increase in hospitalisations.

The Irish Hospital Consultants Association (IHCA) said an increased awareness among the public of the impact of this latest wave of the pandemic could also help protect the health service from buckling under the strain of record emergency presentations and increased Covid activity in our hospitals.  

It comes as the HSE has today reported an additional 9,324 PCR-confirmed cases of COVID-19. A further 10,542 people registered a positive antigen test through the HSE portal.   

It makes the total new cases 19,866. 

 As of 8am today, 1,466 COVID-19 patients are hospitalised, of whom 55 are in ICU.   

Despite the rise in Covid-19 cases in recent weeks, the Government has been adamant it is not contemplating the return of restrictions.

Speaking yesterday, Taoiseach Micheál Martin said the Chief Medical Officer had not recommended re-introducing measures to curb the spread of the virus.

Martin said he had spoken to Dr Tony Holohan in the previous 48 hours.

“This current wave seems to be less impactful, less virulent, the CMO is of that view, than earlier variants and it doesn’t justify further economic restrictions.”

Public health officials yesterday reported 8,910 PCR-confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Ireland and 14,215 people had registered a positive antigen test through the HSE portal on Wednesday. This brought the combined total of Covid-19 cases reported yesterday to 23,125.  

Speaking yesterday, HSE chief operations officer Anne O’Connor said some hospitals and services are being forced to cancel elective surgery, even if they are endeavouring to still provide urgent or critical care. 

The country’s most overcrowded hospital, University Hospital Limerick, on Wednesday announced a deferral of almost all elective activity as it attempted to manage “a sustained surge in emergency presentations and a significant increase in Covid-19 activity”. 

Commenting on the impact of the current wave of the pandemic, IHCA President Professor Alan Irvine, said: “Once again, the massive capacity deficits in our public hospitals means that they cannot cope with the high number of people currently presenting at our emergency departments and the surge in Covid activity in hospitals, without having to cancel essential scheduled surgeries, diagnostic investigations, and outpatient appointments.

“This cannot be the go-to solution to our hospital capacity deficits.”

Irvine said after two years of the Covid-19 pandemic that “at this point we should be in a much better position in terms of having the required hospital capacity to meet the current demand for care”.

“However, in the absence of Government action to increase our public hospital capacity, the public may once again have to play its part in getting this latest surge under control,” Irvine said. 

“Anyone in hospital who tests positive for Covid-19 has to be treated on a Covid ward, which restricts what care can be given to other medical or surgical patients,” he said. 

O’Connor yesterday confirmed that more than 5,200 staff are currently absent due to Covid-19. This is having a “devastating impact on the delivery of timely care to patients,” Irvine said. 

“These workforce pressures are not helped by the fact that the number of approved consultant posts that are vacant or filled on a temporary, locum or agency basis has reached an all-time high of 837 posts,” he said. 

“The vacancies and the shortage of consultants have resulted in excessive workloads being carried by understaffed medical and surgical teams to the detriment of patients,” he said. 

“Unfortunately, there has been no let-up in the workload pressures being faced by this exhausted cohort of staff.”

With reporting by Eoghan Dalton

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