Midland Regional Hospital Portlaoise has had to operate with no spare ICU capacity
Hospitals in Laois and Offaly are facing a 'tricky' situation in deciding how to use six beds for critically ill patients if there is a second Covid-19 surge, according to a local TD who wants more investment to help frontline staff to cope.
Speaking in the Dáil Sinn Féin's Brian Stanley highlighted shortages in Ireland's intensive care capacity.
"In Tullamore hospital, for example, there are just four intensive care unit beds and Portlaoise hospital, critically, has only two such beds. That is for a population catchment area of more than 160,000 people. It leaves us in a tricky position if there is a surge in Covid-19 numbers," he said.
The TD asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Michael McGrath what has been done to address ICU shortages across the hospital system.
"What work has the Department of Health done to increase public hospital intensive care unit capacity during the Covid-19 pandemic? This is not just about temporary capacity but rather long-term capacity. Prior to the pandemic, Ireland had only six intensive care unit beds per 100,000 people, which is only half the European Union average and much lower than what is available in Germany.
"These are matters in our health services that must be addressed regardless of whether the pandemic continues. We could have a win in the health area and for the economy by addressing them,” said Dep Stanley.
The daily HSE Covid-19 report on Covid-19 in Irish hospitals reveals that Portlaoise has had now spare critical care bed for most of September. During the same month, staff have been treating Covid-19 patients in ICU.
Tullamore has been down to just one critical care bed during September with no spare general care beds. It has also been treating confirmed cases throughout the month.
Naas General in Kildare has also faced shortages as have the other hospitals in the Dublin Midlands Hospital Group, Tallagh and St James's in Dublin.