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Huge concern as HSE admit hospitals have no ICU capacity for mass casualty incident

8 December, 2017 - by Louise O'Reilly TD

Sinn Féin Health spokesperson Deputy Louise O’Reilly has said the admission from the HSE Critical Care Lead that hospitals have no Intensive Care Unit capacity for mass casualty incident is extremely worrying.

Teachta O’Reilly said:

“That the Health Service Executive (HSE) Critical Care Lead has told HSE senior management that intensive care units (ICUs) are operating past full capacity daily is a huge concern for the general public and for all our medical and healthcare professionals.

“According to Dr Michael Power, the Critical Care Lead, it is not feasible to plan for a mass casualty incident give the fact that there is such decreased ICU capacity in our hospitals.

“The information was revealed in a document obtained under Freedom of Information legislation by Catherine Reilly of the Medical Independent.

“Dr Power sent the report to HSE Director of Acute Hospitals Mr Liam Woods and HSE National Clinical Advisor Lead at Acute Hospitals Dr Colm Henry outlining this position.

“The number of beds in acute hospitals has decreased dramatically over the past number of years due to funding cuts and staff shortages and ICU beds have not escaped this. In public hospitals the existing critical care bed compliment has decreased by 10 per cent since 2008.

“Our acute hospitals already have a bed occupancy rate of higher than the internationally recommended 85 per cent, usually stuck at a rate of around 94 per cent so there is no capacity there to be converted or used for ICU capacity.

“It is apparent that additional capacity needs to be created by reopening closed beds and some of those beds should be designated as ICU beds.

“The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation have said there are at least 500 beds that could be reopened if funding and staffing levels were increased. It is up to the Minister for Health to reopen all closed beds in our hospitals to ensure that we are capable of dealing with everything from the flu to a major casualty incident.”


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