500 signatures reached
To: The Irish Government
Take Private Hospitals Into Public Use To Deal With Covid-19 Emergency
We demand that the Irish government take all private hospitals into public use in order to deal with the Covid-19 Emergency.
Why is this important?
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 Republic of Ireland there are 5.2 intensive care unit (ICU) beds per 100,000 people (249 total and a further 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 Iran, there are 4.6 per 100k.
In terms of ICU bed capacity, we are closer to Iran than we are to Italy or the European average.
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.
This is the legacy of underfunding in public healthcare and of failure by the traditional governing parties to take the concerns of frontline health professionals seriously.
Private hospitals in the South have between 40 and 50 ICU beds, plus surgical beds that could be repurposed for intensive care in some cases.
In a letter from the European Society of Intensive Care Medicine (ESICM) to members across Europe last week, Italian doctors reported roughly 10% of #Covid19 cases required ICU care. If cases approach the levels that epidemiological models predict, this would mean chaos for patients, staff and public health.
Covid-19 is exposing private medicine for the sham it is. Private hospitals, insurers and pharmaceutical companies have profited off the erosion of the public system, while people suffer. We desperately need to move to a well-funded, single-tier national health service that takes care of people according to medical need and not the size of their wallets.
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.