Thursday, 21 May 2020
Covid-19 (Health): Statements
Simon Harris (Wicklow, Fine Gael)
I absolutely will do so. I discussed this with the chairperson of the HSE and the chief executive. I am conscious and clear about the fact that NPHET advises the Government from a public health point of view on the Covid-19 pandemic. The running of the health service falls to the HSE. I have had good discussions with the HSE on non-covid planning. I see Deputy Kelly nodding in agreement. Deputy Smith is right. As I was saying earlier, we probably need to keep our capacity at 80% to 85% bed occupancy in our public health service. That has serious implications in terms of how we prepare for a winter surge. We also need to look at outpatient clinics. Will we be doing more of them virtually? I imagine we will be.
We also need to look to see if this is an opportunity to move some of the outpatient clinics. For years we have been talking about bringing people from outpatient departments to the community, so could the new community assessment hubs or primary care centres be used in that regard? Could we have allied healthcare professionals leading that? I assure Deputies that this work is under way and being led by Dr. Colm Henry, the chief clinical officer of the Health Service Executive. I expect we will be able to talk about it in detail in a fortnight.