Dáil debates

Thursday, 21 May 2020

Covid-19 (Health): Statements


5:45 pm

Photo of Simon HarrisSimon Harris (Wicklow, Fine Gael)

They are, and I want to see this matter relating to Beaumont Hospital addressed as well because, as the Deputy stated, we have spare capacity across the health service. That is a rarity, but we need to be able to address this issue.

Regarding private hospitals, I share the Deputy Shortall's view that we are going to need to retain all the capacity we can. Where I think there is room for debate, although I think I am close enough to Deputy's view on this, is how to best use that capacity and what arrangements and agreements we come to in that regard. It is complex to switch back on non-Covid-19 care. I am not being smart in saying this, people get that. It is complex to switch this back on from a safety point of view and also from the perspective of clinical prioritisation. Earlier, for the purposes of transparency, I placed on the record the eight key principles the HSE is applying in deciding the priority and order of resumptions. I expect the work by Dr. Colm Henry and Anne O'Connor within a fortnight and for it to be very helpful in guiding what non-Covid-19 care will look like for the next three months or so, and what that will mean in the context of using the extra capacity of the private hospitals.

I will come back to the Deputy on homecare. I was not familiar with testing delays there. Regarding the reinstatement of services, that is a fair point. People might believe they need their service back after being nervous. I will try to get a sense of the numbers in that regard. We can debate another day the nursing homes and how Ireland responded. The Deputy makes a fair point, however. This is a challenge the world over. We have tried to suppress Covid-19 in the community and we have largely done that thanks to people's efforts. Then we see clusters and outbreaks in different sectors, some of which are more predictable than others. Tomorrow, the HSE is due to bring a testing strategy paper to NPHET regarding how it tends to target - and the Deputy has often raised this with me - the extra testing resources it now has at particularly vulnerable sectors or groups of people.


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