Hospitals may not be able to provide intensive care beds to patients with non-Covid emergencies if there is a surge in critically ill coronavirus patients, an intensive care doctor has said.
Dr Colman O’Loughlin, intensive care consultant at the Mater hospital in Dublin and president of the Intensive Care Society of Ireland, told The Irish Times the number of Covid-19 patents in hospital ICUs was “manageable” but added that there was a “concerning rise” in critically ill patients.
Moving to “surge” capacity to manage an increase in Covid-19 ICU patients was complex and would take staff from other parts of hospitals and deny “some very valuable services.”
“It is not something that we do lightly. It does have that nasty connotation of having to rob Peter to pay Paul so other services suffer badly when we go to surge and that is why we are so nervous of it,” said Dr O’Loughlin.
The number of Covid-19 patients in intensive care increased to 88 on Wednesday – more than double the figure six days ago – after 18 admissions and six discharges over the previous 24 hours.
The last time the figure was this high was in early May during the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic when Covid-19 cases in ICUs peaked at 155 in mid-April.
Latest figures from the National Public Health Emergency Team on Wednesday showed also there were 7,836 new cases of Covid-19 in the State and 17 further deaths.
There has now been a total of 121,154 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the State since the pandemic began and 2,299 Covid-related deaths.
Chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan said the country was in a “serious phase” of this surge. He said there was evidence of an increasing presence of the more contageous UK variant in the State.
“There is concerning escalation of admissions to hospital and ICU. We are very likely to see escalating mortality and ICU admissions in the coming days and weeks,” he said.