'COVID reality' means health services won't be as efficient as before - Paul Reid


Stephen McNeice
Stephen McNeice

18.04 7 Jul 2020


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Health services will be less efficient due to the impact of COVID-19, the head of the HSE has warned.

Paul Reid says it's a "very nervous time in terms of delivering the health service" - and that changes are needed to protect staff and patients.

He has urged the public to "bear with us" as services gradually restart.

This week has seen some screening services begin to resume, with CervicalCheck starting to send fresh invites for checks.

However, BreastCheck and BowelScreen will not resume until September or October, while many patients are still waiting to hear when cancelled elective procedures will be able to proceed.

Speaking on The Hard Shoulder, Paul Reid said healthcare workers now need to take "vast precautions".

'COVID reality' means health services won't be as efficient as before - Paul Reid

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He explained: "The services we're now delivering are in what we call a COVID reality - and they won't be as efficient in a lot of ways that they would have been.

"It is a very nervous time in terms of delivering the health service, because we have to protect the public, we have to protect the patients, and we have to protect our staff in the delivery of all the services we deliver."

Mr Reid said some of the changes including having to make sure there are not large number of people waiting in the country's outpatient or emergency departments.

He noted: "It's not just in Ireland - you're seeing across Europe surgeries taking three times longer because our medics have to put on and put off their PPE in a very different way... cleaning procedures prior to it and after it... procedures the public will have to take in terms coming in for elective care."

The HSE chief executive stressed the health service never stopped urgent care during the pandemic, and that people who need attention continue to get seen.

He said the wider roadmap for the resumption of services is likely to see three phases - up to September; between September and November; and November to February.

He told Ivan: "All of our teams and our community services want to bring back the public for their care and to do it in a very safe way.

"I would urge the public to bear with us, because we want to protect them as well as everyone else."

He added that seeing what happens with the COVID-19 outbreak in the coming weeks and months will be needed to give staff confidence about starting to get back to previous levels.

Main image: HSE chief Paul Reid. Photo: Leah Farrell/Rollingnews.ie

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