HSE boss anticipates "one of the worst winters we’ve faced in many years"
Paul Reid's comments arrive at a time when 93 patients are in ICU with Covid-19.
HSE CEO Paul Reid is anticipating a difficult period ahead for hospitals as positive Covid cases continue to soar across the country.
He aired his concerns in conversation with Katie Hannon on RTÉ Radio 1 on Saturday morning as she asked about how the HSE is hoping to deal with an increasing number of hospitalisations over the past few weeks.
“This is probably going to be one of the worst winters we’ve faced in many years”, Reid said.
“We have 93 people in ICU, that’s a real level of concern because that’s 93 out of 296 available ICU beds at the moment.”
Reid repeatedly insisted on the importance of being vaccinated and what impact it had on the hospital sector.
He noted that “57% of the people in ICU have not been vaccinated”.
“What [doctors] are seeing, particularly in ICU are younger, unvaccinated people in the 30-40 age group. And sadly, in some cases, deaths through unvaccinated people under the age of 25 [have occurred].”
A number of initiatives are being planned to encourage those who have not been vaccinated yet to air their concerns, and to provide them with a vaccine, should they want one.
Reid also underlined that there are no recommendations from NIAC at this point to provide booster shots for healthcare workers.
“My concern is growing and heightening in terms of healthcare staff," he said.
"We increasingly have more and more staff out with Covid, or symptomatic or close contacts, about 1800 that’ll probably grow to 2000 shortly."
"We’re seeing more outbreaks... we have a duty of care to staff, we have a duty of care to vulnerable patients, so I would be really anxious that that decision is made sooner rather than later.”
Reid was optimistic that case numbers could go down soon through assistance from the public.
“We can turn this around. We can turn it around as quickly as it’s turned badly.”
Reid's sentiment was echoed by Taoiseach Micheál Martin.
Speaking on Newstalk on Saturday morning, Martin urged the public to "collectively behave" in order to prevent a further spike in Covid cases in the coming weeks and months.
"You could be looking at up to 150 in ICU by the end of November," the Taoiseach warned.
"That would be serious, obviously, in terms of the wider impact on the health service."