Health system will prioritise urgent care, says senior health official

By Dominic McGrath
PA Archive

The Irish health system will be “challenged” in the coming days, as the country nears the peak of the current wave of Covid-19.

HSE chief operations officer Anne O’Connor said on Friday that approximately 12% of healthcare staff are now absent due to Covid-19 across all healthcare services.

This is around 14,000 to 15,000 staff, she said, adding: “This is something that us impacting all of our services.”

She said that healthcare services across the country are “doing all they can”, with staff returning early from leave and others being redeployed.

Ms O’Connor said that the HSE will face the “inability” to do some scheduled work, due to a surge in Covid-19 cases and a rising number of people in hospital with the virus.

However, she also told RTE radio that people needing “time-dependent care”, such as cancer patients, were being prioritised.

The National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) met on Thursday to discuss the latest Covid-19 situation.

Health officials are not believed to have recommended any new restrictions to the Government.

It comes as the country continues to experience record case numbers.

A further 23,817 cases of Covid-19 were confirmed in Ireland on Thursday, a new record daily total.

However, politicians have expressed optimism that high case numbers are not translating into a surge in patients in intensive care.

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