'Crisis situation' in many hospitals as up to 350 nurses redeployed to ICUs

1,823 patients with Covid-19 were being treated in Irish hospitals this morning
'Crisis situation' in many hospitals as up to 350 nurses redeployed to ICUs

Cork University Hospital. There were 1,803 patients with Covid-19 in hospitals across the country last night -  217 of whom were in intensive care units (ICUs). Picture Dan Linehan

The number of patients in hospitals is still too high, and smaller hospitals are struggling to cope. 

That's according to the HSE’s chief operations officer Anne O’Connor, who said that recent reductions in case numbers hadn't yet alleviated pressure on hospitals.

1,823 patients with Covid-19 were being treated in Irish hospitals this morning.

In the past 24 hours, there have been 97 further admissions associated with Covid-19.

There have also been 154 discharges reported, just shy of the record set last Tuesday.

Today's total represents the largest percentage fall in the number of patients in a single day since December 1.

However, there are still more people with Covid-19 in Irish hospitals today than the highest total recorded during the first wave of the pandemic.

Current numbers, combined with a high level of absenteeism due to Covid-19, meant that many healthcare staff were being redeployed, she said.

Ms O'Connor said that between 300 and 350 nurses had been redeployed to intensive care units while many hospitals were experiencing "a crisis situation."

She said some smaller hospitals “really are in trouble” and the pandemic was continuing to impact on the whole system. 

"The intensive care system operated at a national level and many patients had been moved using the intensive care ambulance fleet.

There is only so much pressure that you can put on any one hospital. 

Speaking on Morning Ireland, Ms O'Connor said psycho-social supports were being put in place to support staff who could access them online or in person. 

"We have to ensure our staff can work," she said.

The vaccination policy in hospitals was based on exposure not rank or position, that had been the priority – the Covid pathways, from emergency departments to the Covid wards to the ICU and critical care units – “those most at risk to the high levels of exposure.”

Ms O'Connor also said there was no issue with the supply of higher grade masks for staff.

"Where hospitals feel they need to supply them to staff they are free to do so.

"Prior to Christmas the HSE was providing 106,000 of the masks per week, now they are providing one million per week," she added.

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