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Lack of ICU beds is 'utterly shameful', says doctor

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Some patients are developing organ failure due to delays in admission to scarce intensive care unit beds, a new report has warned.

The audit for 2018 found that if a patient develops organ failure in four or more organ systems within 24 hours of admission it is suggestive of a delay.

The national rate for this complication was 11.5pc, higher than the UK rate of 9.3pc, according to the National Office of Clinical Audit.

However, in St James's Hospital in Dublin it was as high as 16.7pc.

Commenting on the report, Dr Tom Ryan, a consultant in intensive care and anaesthesia, said: "The Irish National Intensive Care Unit Audit Report comes as no surprise to those of us who are working on the front-line of our health service. The impact of under- resourced and under-staffed intensive care units is felt on a daily basis.

"It's a serious concern that the units are operating at almost full capacity with up to 96pc occupancy in some units.

"This is dangerous territory to be in for the safety of current and future patients, as we need and have a duty to be able to respond to any incident that comes through the door.

"Meanwhile, national intensive care unit bed capacity increased by 6pc last year - still 25 fewer beds than we had a decade ago and 33pc below the target recommended in the Department of Health's Capacity Review in 2018. It is utterly shameful.

"We are still working our way through a major winter trolley crisis, which has not been helped by the fact we have serious, ongoing deficits in the number of beds and consultants in our acute public hospitals.

"Ireland consistently lags behind our European neighbours in the provision of intensive care beds. We have on average only six beds per 100,000 population compared with the EU average of 11.5 per 100,000, almost twice as many.

"On consultant staffing, we have less than half of the recommended 82 intensive care consultants needed to provide the highest standards of specialist care for critically ill patients across our hospitals.

"The report is another clear signal that our government and health service management's strategies and plans are not working. Intensive care patients deserve the very best chance of survival."

Irish Independent