Covid spike forcing hospitals to cancel surgeries - HSE warns

Senior politicians have insisted there will not be a return to any of the restrictions we have seen during the pandemic

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Hospitals are under serious pressure as staff treat a high volume of Covid-19 patients, health officials have warned.

It comes as senior politicians insisted there will not be a return to any restrictions, despite a spike in cases.

HSE chief operations officer Anne O’Connor said on Thursday that hospitals are bearing the brunt of the rise in cases.

Cases in hospital are up 29% in the last week.

As of Wednesday, there were 1,395 Covid-positive patients in hospital, with 55 in intensive care.

Ms O’Connor said around half of those patients are in hospital because they had become sick after contracting the virus.

She added: “In one way, that doesn’t really matter to us. If they are infectious with Covid, they need to be on a Covid ward, in isolation.”

She named Sligo, Kerry and Limerick as places where staff are under particular pressure.

But she added: “We are seeing huge pressures all around the country.

“This is not just unique to hospitals. It is across the board.”

File photo dated 31/07/21 of a person receiving a Covid-19 jab. Coronavirus booster vaccine jabs for millions of people in England will begin to be offered this week, the NHS has announced. The vaccine will be available to care home residents, people who are 75 and over, and the immunosuppressed aged 12 and over. Issue date: Sunday March 20, 2022.
File photo dated 31/07/21 of a person receiving a Covid-19 jab. Coronavirus booster vaccine jabs for millions of people in England will begin to be offered this week, the NHS has announced. The vaccine will be available to care home residents, people who are 75 and over, and the immunosuppressed aged 12 and over. Issue date: Sunday March 20, 2022.

More than 5,200 staff are currently absent due to Covid-19, she confirmed.

“If you go to Limerick yesterday, they had serious problems with some specialties, where they had a consultant and some of their team out with Covid.

“If they are gone, and their team is gone with Covid, we can’t provide that service.”

Ms O’Connor said some hospitals and services are being forced to cancel elective surgery, even if they are endeavouring to still provide urgent or critical care.

“I know far more people with Covid than I ever have at the minute,” she told RTE radio.

She said the health service has to get through the coming weeks and hope that case numbers and hospital figures start to drop.

“The only lever in a hospital, unfortunately, is to cancel planned work,” she said.

Tanaiste Leo Varadkar told a meeting of the Fine Gael parliamentary party on Wednesday night that the chief medical officer does not see the need for further Covid restrictions.

He expressed his concern about rising numbers but stressed the Omicron variant of coronavirus is less severe, adding that the population is highly vaccinated and economic and social restrictions are not imposed for a bad flu season.