The HSE has approved “a significant” investment programme to “further enhance” the capacity and resilience of hospital medical gas systems, according to information provided by HSE Estates to the Medical Independent.
This programme is “ongoing and will continue into 2021”.
At the onset of the pandemic in Ireland, the HSE, in collaboration with bulk medical liquid oxygen (MLO) supplier BOC Engineering and hospital technical services departments, sought to determine the oxygen capacity for every acute hospital in Ireland. This exercise was assisted by the Covid Engineering Alliance, a group of engineers from the private sector collaborating to assist with the national response to Covid-19.
“The information gathered as part of this process was used to inform the HSE’s surge capacity planning process. It also identified that some hospitals would not have sufficient capacity in their oxygen systems to meet the anticipated demand, as predicted by the national modelling on Covid-19,” according to HSE Estates.
As a result, a Covid-19 emergency investment programme delivered upgrades to the oxygen storage and distribution systems in almost every acute hospital in Ireland.
“The HSE’s surge plans were updated to reflect the increases in oxygen capacity as engineering works were completed. Information on oxygen capacity was shared with the Department of Health and NPHET [national public health emergency team] as part of the HSE’s surge planning process.
“At the beginning of the Covid-19 emergency there was a great deal of anxiety regarding the ability of our oxygen systems to meet an unprecedented demand. However, the emergency upgrade programme delivered sufficient oxygen capacity to meet the actual demand to date and the HSE are not aware of any adverse incidents as a result of a shortfall in oxygen capacity.”
The ongoing investment programme will focus on “increasing the storage and delivery capacity of our bulk MLO systems and in the associated medical gas pipeline systems”.
“It will also focus on the resilience of our systems ensuring that there is an adequate provision of backup supply in the unlikely event of a failure in the primary supply system.”