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Private hospitals to treat urgent non-Covid patients, as HSE braces for further rise in hospitalisations

There are now 1,421 people with Covid-19 in hospital, with 121 in ICU.

HSE CEO Paul Reid.
HSE CEO Paul Reid.
Image: Photocall Ireland

Updated Jan 10th 2021, 2:30 PM

HSE CHIEF PAUL Reid has said that capacity in private hospitals have begun to take urgent non-Covid care, as a “surge capacity” agreement was finalised over the weekend.

It comes as the number of people hospitalised with Covid-19 rose to 1,421 today – 136 further admissions since yesterday – with the 121 of that number in intensive care units (ICU).

Speaking to RTÉ’s This Week, Reid said: “Already this week, private hospitals are taking some urgent non-Covid care… We have in essence triggered those processes already.”

An agreement was finalised between the HSE and 15 private hospitals this weekend to provide additional capacity if necessary during the next 12 months.

Discussions are ongoing with the Beacon Hospital over the weekend, Reid said.

Reid said that by early this week there would likely be double the number of people with Covid-19 in hospital now than there was at the peak of of last year, when 881 Covid patients were hospitalised. 

“Our health system is under increasing strain. The best support we can all now give, is to avoid getting sick with Covid. This will help to get us out the other side of this.”

shutterstock_187694114 Source: Shutterstock/Hadrian

Reid also told RTÉ Radio that the normal winter trolley surge has not been as severe as in previous years; there are 130 people on trolleys today, compared to over 400 people on the same day last year.

He said that some elective care have been paused, but that urgent care such as cancer or cardio care is continuing. 

Yesterday, 1,285 people with Covid-19 were in hospital, of which 107 were in ICU. There were 116 further hospital admissions in the previous 24 hours. 

Dr Colm Henry of the HSE said that the numbers haven’t peaked yet, saying that there are 37 available ICU beds at the moment – plus 11 paediatric beds.

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There are a total of 286 ICU beds; a further 16 ICU beds are being brought in between this and next month. There are around seven nurses needed per ICU bed.

He said that they have lost capacity in hospitals due to some healthcare staff having to self-isolate or restrict their movements. 

The number of people in hospital with Covid-19 has been increasing to the highest numbers since the pandemic began. The past few days have represented record high numbers of people being treated in Irish hospitals for Covid-19.

Due to the way the virus attacks, there can be a delay between the time when someone contracts Covid-19, and when they are admitted to hospital, as the disease can get progressively worse. Some people need to be hospitalised for weeks before they recover.

On Thursday, hospitalisation figures topped 1,000 for the first time during the pandemic. HSE CEO Paul Reid described it as a “sad milestone”.

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