Time to modernise hospitals

Sir, – Now that we are approaching the end of this phase of the pandemic, it is right that we should take stock. Aside from the outstanding success of the vaccination campaign, the lessons that should have been learned about our health system were the lack of critical care and non-invasive ventilation beds in our hospitals as well as the inadequacy of our current hospital bed stock.

Many of our hospital wards rely on multibed units with few single rooms. In some hospitals we still have 14-plus bed nightingale wards (one large room without subdivisions for patient occupancy) where viral transmission has been all too easy. This lead to many unnecessary ICU admissions and deaths in the previous waves and multiple ward closures in this one.

In modern hospitals in other countries of comparable wealth, wards are generally a mix of single and double rooms. In what would be considered inadequate and outdated conditions pre-pandemic some of our hospitals are now barely tenable as acute healthcare facilities.

Our Government and politicians need to pivot and listen to senior healthcare professionals to address this in a systemic manner.

The current plan of building three 500-bed elective hospitals to add to the system is woefully inadequate.

We need to be much more ambitious in modernising and rationalising our hospitals. We can look to the history of this State and the TB epidemic to show how we were able to rapidly built many new sanatoriums and hospitals in the 1950s in response to that crisis.

There should be a running five-year plan prioritising what acute hospitals need to be rebuilt.

The inadequacy of our current hospital system has cost lives. – Yours, etc,

Dr MICHAEL O’MAHONY,

Consultant Respiratory

Physician,

Oughterard,

Galway.