Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Chief Clinical Officer with the HSE, Dr Colm Henry

THE Chief Clinical Officer, Dr Colm Henry has contacted all Hospital Group CEOs and Clinical Directors to implement “urgent actions” in response to what he described as “an emergency situation”. In a memo issued on Tuesday (January 12), Dr Henry said that modelling data “is now very clear and highlights the crisis which we now face”. As part of an emergency action plan he outlined a set of urgent actions to be introduced with immediate effect including the immediate suspension of all non-urgent / non time dependent elective activity; escalation in the discharge of patients from acute hospitals with immediate effect and further development of alternative pathways of care that support admission avoidance, minimise length of stay and facilitate discharge which should be used to their fullest extent.

“Our hospitals are now under pressure with patients admitted both to the wards and ICU with COVID 19 and with high staff absenteeism as a result of direct infection or designation as a close contact,” Dr Henry said. “It is important not just to focus on the peak in this surge but to understand that both the volumes of cases and longer than average length of stay (LoS) associated with Covid admissions will result in a slow downturn in the numbers in hospital after we reach a peak. This will bring a prolonged burden of care for our hospitals and clinical teams.”


Dr Henry said that the current vaccine roll-out was not a solution that “in the short term will address the surge”.

“It is anticipated that we will have over 2,000 in-patients and more than 220 critical care patients with COVID-19 by next Monday and that we will see further increases beyond then,” Dr Henry added. “This is considerably more than in the first peak and will require staff re-deployment to maintain separated pathways and support critical care surge. The ongoing impact of healthcare related Covid 19 outbreaks will also significantly impact on the flow of patients through the acute and post-acute care health system.”

Dr Henry concluded the memo by acknowledging the “exceptional and unstinting commitment of all colleagues” in maintaining the integrity of the health system through these most challenging times.

As of this morning, there were 63 positive patients in UHW and 6 patients in ICU.

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