Extra staff brought in after Covid-19 crisis at Donegal hospital - people had to wait in ambulances before being admitted

Eleven additional beds "opened" at Letterkenny University Hospital to cope with spike in numbers

Extra staff brought in after Covid-19 crisis at Donegal hospital - people had to wait in ambulances before being admitted

Letterkenny University Hospital

Health chiefs, hospital staff and members of the public will be hoping that there will be no further repeat today of the scenes that saw ambulances having to queue in the grounds of Letterkenny University Hospital yesterday.

A surge in new Covid-19 cases meant that there were delays in admissions and some people had to be treated in ambulances.

There were 196 new Covid-19 infections confirmed in Donegal yesterday and it is understood that the number being treated in Letterkenny University Hospital had risen to 79 last night, with three more suspected cases.

A spokeswoman for the Saolta University Health Care group, which manages hospitals across the west and north west, said it had been "an extremely busy weekend at Letterkenny University Hospital" with "a large number of patients presenting with suspect or confirmed Covid-19, many of whom required admission to the hospital.

As a result of the sustained level of these presentations over the course of the day, the hospital had very few beds available. This resulted in delays in admission specifically for patients going to the dedicated Covid-19 zone.

“As part of the hospital’s response to this serious situation, clinical teams assessed patients who were delayed being admitted from the ambulance. This was to ensure that patients were treated in clinical priority," the spokesperson explained.

It was also confirmed that the hospital had secured additional staff yesterday evening, which enabled the opening of a further 11 beds in order to respond to the demand.

The spokesperson noted that while there were ambulances delayed late yesterday afternoon, over the course of the evening they had been released.

No ambulances were still waiting late last night.

“The hospital would like to apologise to patients for the distress that these delays cause and would like to acknowledge the huge effort of its staff," the spokesperson stressed.

The number of Covid-19 cases at Letterkenny has increased gradually from 42 seven days ago.

On Sunday morning, it emerged that Letterkenny has received eight new patients over 24 hours.

The current crisis comes after mounting pressure on services over the past few weeks.

Last Tuesday the hospital deferred all but very urgent and time-critical inpatient and day surgery due to the increase in Covid-19 cases.

In the middle of last week around 170 staff were off due to Covid-19, and this contributed to the difficulties.

The biggest increase was in the number of staff off due to being close contacts with Covid-19 cases, This had virtually trebled since the week before Christmas.

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