My friend John Trinder is on the ICU (Consultant Intensivist) Frontline. This is his weekly update. This is to help us understand the decisions of politicians and why we need to be alert and careful and love our neighbours.
Weekly update #10 on ICU capacity in Northern Ireland.
The purpose of this is to help folk understand why there is ongoing serious concern about provision of hospital services (for much more than COVID-19, but clearly contributed to by the demands COVID-19 continues to put on the NHS in Northern Ireland). This indicates why there is a continuing need to follow public health guidance and also to counter misinformation and misdirection.
There are currently 81 patients in ICUs across Northern Ireland, compared to 89 last week and obviously still exceeding the usual maximum capacity we can sustainably deliver of 72. Of these 81, 32 are COVID-19 (static from last week).
So our ICUs continue to be over capacity, a substantial proportion of the ICU patients are critically ill with COVID-19, and this demand continues to impact adversely on other services.
In my own institution, in the last couple of weeks we have sadly lost several patients due to COVID-19 who were relatively young and died despite many weeks of intensive care.
You will be aware via national media of the strain our hospitals continue to find themselves under for general beds too, and no healthcare professional is comfortable with a scenario where a further large increase in demand for emergency or urgent care (for any condition) could put us in a position where patients either suffer or die from delayed treatment, or we would have to make rationing choices with life-supporting treatments which would normally be unthinkable.
Please take care and do your best to prevent avoidable injury and infection whilst the NHS is struggling under unprecedented load. This is certainly not the same as annual winter pressures.
Wishing all a peaceful and happy Christmas under adverse circumstances.