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Rising hospitalisations present serious threat to continuity of healthcare - David Cullinane TD

10 January, 2021 - by David Cullinane TD

David CullinaneSinn Féin spokesperson on Health David Cullinane TD has said that rising hospitalisations will put acute hospitals under great strain.

Teachta Cullinane called for a significant catch-up programme for delayed and missed care that will be necessary as more non-urgent care is cancelled.

Speaking this evening, Teachta Cullinane said:

"The rising hospitalisation figures are highly concerning. This is an extremely challenging environment for health service staff.

"I have been speaking with representatives of hospital staff and they have said that workers are absolutely exhausted.

“The HSE expects at least 1,500 Covid patients in acute hospitals at the end of this week, and it could be as high as 2,500. It also expects ICU occupancy to reach at least 220 and as high as 450.

"We need to plan for the worst case scenario, which means having the capacity in place.

"I welcome that 16 additional ICU beds are due to come online in the next month, but these should already be in place.

"We were promised additional beds during the summer, in the Winter Plan, and in the Budget.

"In August, I launched a plan outlining emergency capacity protection measures including 100 ICU beds.

"This also called for modular units to expand bed capacity and give more space for hospitals to operate.

"We have around 280 open and staffed ICU beds at any one time - no additional beds yet since the end of the first wave, and the emergency is now.

"Keeping these beds open will be contingent on staff. We must ensure that the appropriate frontline staff are being vaccinated in a timely fashion.

"I welcome that time sensitive and critical care is being prioritised, but continuity of care is important for patients whose 'non-urgent' care is being cancelled.

"We will need a significant catch-up programme for missed care. I would have a concern about continuity of less urgent cancer care.

"Any delay can cause missed diagnoses and allow conditions to worsen. We will need to make sure that we can catch up when we are through this.

"Healthcare workers are flat out and know there is still lots of work to be done.

"We owe it to them to make sure the resources they need - safe staffing levels, support staff, pay equality, beds, and investment in community-based care as well as acute hospitals - are there.

"We are waiting patiently for the National Service Plan to be published on the 21st, and I hope it has very clear timeframes to ensure the health service can cope to deliver catch-up care.

"I intend to raise all of these matters with the Minister on the return of the Dáil this week.

"I will be echoing these concerns and many more which have been raised with me by the more than 20 different advocacy and worker representative groups I met with this week.

"There are many other serious concerns such as undelivered home help to isolating individuals, delayed speech and language therapy, and missed child developmental checks."

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