Covid-19: Sinn Féin says Government failing to increase ICU capacity at Cork hospitals

HSE insists it has sufficient capacity in Cork to deal with current increases in virus cases

Sinn Féin has strongly criticised the Government, saying it has added only two intensive care beds to hospitals in Cork throughout the summer despite knowing there was a real risk of a second wave of Covid-19.

Cork North Central Sinn Féin TD, Thomas Gould said he wrote to the chief executive of the South/South West Hospital Group last week and learned only one ICU bed was added in Cork University Hospital and one in the Mercy University Hospital.

“What capacity building was done during the summer months? We now know that there are no available ICU Beds in Cork and that a Covid-19 ward in CUH has had to close because of an outbreak,” said Mr Gould.

Mr Gould said it was “disgraceful” that the Government had months to build capacity, develop contingency plans and properly support the healthcare system in Cork but had failed to do so.


“We entered into this pandemic in an extremely precarious situation given the decade of failure to fund the health service. We’re now in a situation where the Government did not take the necessary actions and people will suffer.”

He said the government needs to “step in immediately and resolve this extremely dangerous situation in Cork”. Mr Gould added that the 14-day incidence of the disease in Cork from September 30th to October 13th was now 209.4 per 100,000.

However the HSE insisted that it had sufficient surge capacity in Cork hospitals and others in the South/South West hospital group to cater for the current increase in Covid-19 cases in the region.

In a statement, it said CUH currently has 20 ICU beds with the capacity to add 16 further beds if required while the MUH has six ICU beds with the capacity to add a further 12 beds if required.

University Hospital Kerry has six ICU beds with the capacity to add 12 beds while South Tipperary General Hospital has five ICU beds and can add 16 and University Hospital Waterford has 10 ICU beds but can add 17 more, it said.

“To date none of the acute hospitals within the group have needed to implement their surge protocols. It should also be noted that ICU utilisation changes on a daily basis,” said the HSE in its statement.

Barry Roche

Barry Roche

Barry Roche is Southern Correspondent of The Irish Times