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Health service in better position than March – Hardiman

Hospitals are better braced to cope with Covid-19 and its effects on other services now than when the pandemic first hit in March, despite the concerning surge in cases, according to National Clinical Lead in Neurology Prof Orla Hardiman.

In a statement to the Medical Independent (MI), Prof Hardiman expressed “cautious optimism” about the current situation and said this was also the view of her neurology colleagues around the country.

“We will have some staff re-deployment for a few weeks, elective admissions are reduced  and our clinics are all virtual, but in general I think we  are better at managing things now than we were back in March,” Prof Hardiman told MI.

“Of course , the cancellations will generate a backlog that we will need to address.”

As National Clinical Lead in Neurology Prof Hardiman said she can perceive “a very positive appetite within the HSE to address some of the chronic problems” within the health service.

“Going forward, we obviously need to ensure that the vaccinations are expedited,” Prof Hardiman stated.

“Thereafter, I think that the early changes that we made such as virtual clinics, working closely with voluntary organisations (I have had very good experiences in this regard with the Migraine Association of Ireland, the Irish Motor Neurone Disease Association,  the MS Society, and smaller groups ), and new applications that make accessing care more efficient. 

“I have also noted that HSE e-health has really ramped up, and that there is a lot of creativity and innovation coming.”

According to the figures released on 14 January, 1,582 Covid-19 patients were hospitalised, of which 146 were in ICU.

A total of 156 additional hospitalisations had occurred in the previous 24 hours.

Dr Tony Holohan, Chief Medical Officer, Department of Health said: “While we are seeing the first glimmer of hope in respect of our daily case figures and positivity rates, the situation in hospitals and ICUs around the country continues to worsen day on day. We know that hospitalisations occur some weeks after a confirmed case is notified, and mortality after that again. That means we are unfortunately set for a period of time where the situation in our hospitals gets worse before it gets better.”

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