Sligo inquest highlights ongoing need for more intensive care beds

The recent inquest in Sligo into the tragic death of Dhara Kivlehan has focused attention again on shortfalls in the provision of intensive care beds in Ireland.

In a 2012 survey Ireland had 6.5 beds per 100,000 population while the average in Europe was 11.5. Inevitably, our ICUs run at 100% bed occupancy and delays, like that experienced by Mrs Kivlehan, are routine.

There have been calls for a review of intensive care provision and needs. A comprehensive review has already been commissioned by the HSE and it reported in 2009. This was undertaken by Prospectus and entitled “Towards Excellence in Critical Care: Review of Adult Critical Care Services in the Republic of Ireland”. It recommended 418 Critical Care beds for existing requirements; we currently have only 233.

Delays in accessing intensive care are immediately life-threatening. These delays and treatment in sub-optimal settings are an everyday occurrence for the critically ill patients we treat. An increase in intensive care bed numbers to the level recommended by Prospectus is required to be able to provide immediate care for all those who need it.

R Dwyer and I Hayes

President / Vice President

Intensive Care Society of Ireland

Merrion Square North

Dublin 2

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