"Something has to give" – Doctor issues stark warning on hospital situation
"I don't think grim was the word we used – we used stronger words than that."
The president of the Intensive Care Society of Ireland (ICSI) has said that Irish hospitals are in a notably serious situation due to rising numbers of Covid cases across the past few weeks.
Dr Colman O'Loughlin, who is also a consultant in Dublin's Mater Hospital, shared his concerns on Today with Claire Byrne on RTÉ Radio 1 on Monday (15 November).
When asked about HSE CEO Paul Reid's comments about the present scenario being described as "grim", O'Loughlin reemphasised the gravity of the situation.
"I was talking to Paul Reid. I don't think grim was the word we used – we used stronger words than that", O'Loughlin said.
"A lot of our acute hospital beds and ICU beds are taken up with Covid patients.
"For example, just under 50% of our ICU beds and critical care beds in the Mater are taken up by Covid patients at the moment, so it's next to impossible to try and run a normal health system with that going on."
According to O'Loughlin, the lack of capacity has lead to several procedures being curtailed in the past few weeks, marking the first time since the end of the third wave of cases that the hospital has had to delay procedures due to lack of capacity.
Elective surgeries have also been curtailed, with O'Loughlin describing the situation as "very serious".
In the Mater Hospital alone, there have been attempts to keep procedures such as cancer care ongoing, but doctors are finding it difficult to do so.
ICU is currently at capacity, and sections of the hospital have gone into surge to support the increase in patients for the "first time in a long time".
"The last few times I've talked to you I've tried to reassure people that we're coping. I just can't say that at the moment", warned O'Loughlin.
"The background to all of this is a lack of visibility of how this is going to turn around."
Dr O'Loughlin encouraged the Government to speed up the booster programme, rather than wait for further evidence.
"Something has to give here, Claire. We don't see a way out of this."