PBP call for government to use private ICU beds to deal with Coronavirus

By Amy Blaney

People Before Profit Galway have called for the state to take private intensive care beds into public control in order to tackle coronavirus.

Adrian Curran, spokesperson for People Before Profit Galway said: 

“As the full scale of the public health challenge posed by the Coronavirus becomes clear, there is cause for concern around the ability of the two tier health system to cope with the projected number of cases.”

“In the southern state there are 5.2 intensive care beds per 100,000 people (249 total and a futher 5.3 per 100k in the North). This is against an EU average of 11.5 ICU beds per 100k. In Italy, where the outbreak is currently at its worst, there are 12.5 ICU beds per 100k and in Iran, there are 4.6 per 100k.”

Mr Curran said that there were insufficient ICU beds to deal with the an increased number of coronavirus cases.

“When it comes to ICU staffing – we have less than half the number of Intensive Care consultants that state-commissioned audits have recommended and a critical shortage of ICU nursing staff too.”

He added: “In a letter from the European Society of Intensive Care Medicine (ESICM) Italian doctors reported roughly 10% of coronavirus cases required ICU care. If cases approach the levels that epidemiological models predict, this would mean chaos for patients, staff and public health.”

Visiting restrictions are currently in place in all Irish hospitals as the health service attempts to contain the spread of COVID-19.

Mr Curran called for a “well-funded, single-tier national health service” that takes care of people according to medical need.

“To deal with this crisis, the state should immediately move to bring private ICU and other beds into public control to meet demand as cases increase. Private staff should be seconded to the public system as required and health professionals in the public system should be consulted to ensure adequate staffing and resources”

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