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Covid-19: Zero ICU beds available in nine acute hospitals across Ireland

It comes after health officials confirmed 1.095 cases of Covid-19 in Ireland and five further deaths.

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CORK UNIVERSITY HOSPITAL, Mercy Hospital and St. Vincent’s are among nine hospitals across the country with no available ICU beds, as Covid-19 cases rise and new restrictions come into effect. 

The latest HSE data shows that of 28 acute hospitals around the country, nine facilities, including Cork University Hospital, University Hospital Kerry and Mercy Hospital did not have any available ICU beds as of 6.30pm yesterday. 

It comes after health officials confirmed 1.095 cases of Covid-19 in Ireland and five further deaths. It was announced last night that Donegal, Cavan and Monaghan will be put under Level 4 restrictions while a nationwide ban on household visitors comes into effect at midnight. 

ICU capacity and hospital admissions have continued to rise in recent weeks amid calls for increased ICU capacity heading into winter. 

As part of Budget 2021, €22 billion will be earmarked for the health service with plans to increase ICU capacity to 321 by the end of next year. 

There are currently 214 confirmed Covid-19 cases in Irish hospitals, including 30 cases in ICU. The number of hospitalised cases dropped from 240 on Monday to 214 last night. 

Speaking last week, HSE CEO Paul Reid said Ireland’s hospital system is “challenged, not overwhelmed” but warned that some hospitals will have to trigger surge capacity to facilitate Covid-19 and non-Covid-19 ventilation. 

Reid warned that some planned procedures this winter will be impacted. 

Speaking to last week, intensive care consultant at University Hospital Limerick Dr Catherine Motherway said the delivery of acute beds – and the staffing for those beds – will be important for ICUs.

“We need hospital bed numbers to expand so that when we have a patient ready for discharge from the ICU, they have a bed to go to and their ICU bed can go to another patient. 

“Both the critical care beds and the general ward beds need to be expanded and while there is a commitment to do that, it’s broad strokes in [the HSE's Winter Plan]. I’m not privy to the intricacies of where they’ll go and how they’ll do it.”

She said recruitment “can’t be done in one fell swoop”.

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“It can be difficult to recruit nurses particularly to work in Dublin, which is where I imagine many of the additional ICU beds will be. The cost of living in Dublin is so high for people on an average wage.

“The work in Dublin ICUs is satisfying because it’s complex work, but there is a challenge there and a challenge in terms of retention of ICU staff too.”

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