Letterkenny University Hospital is one of a number of hospitals around the country drawing up plans to treat the backlog of non-Covid patients in the coming weeks.
It comes amidst fears of what was described as an “apocalyptic” surge in those waiting for treatment for operations in Donegal and elsewhere.
All non-essential surgery was cancelled in Donegal before the start of the pandemic almost two months ago.
Surgeons and hospital managers must now attempt to keep Covid patients away from those seeking ‘normal’ procedures.
The number of procedures that can safely be carried out daily is likely to halve as strict social distancing and other infection control measures are implemented, said Dr Gabrielle Colleran, vice-president of the Irish Hospital Consultants Association.
Patients requiring treatment for urgent conditions such as cardiac problems and cancer will be prioritised under the new approach, officials have indicated.
Health Service Executive (HSE) chief executive Paul Reid committed to publishing the plan but did not say when it would be completed.
Mr Reid said occupancy levels in hospitals would have to be limited to 80% – instead of the normal level of over 95 per cent – to allow for safe levels of operation.
There are plans to treat non Covid-19 patients in private hospitals, which are currently working at just one-third capacity.
However, it is uncertain how this will impact on Donegal patients.
However, Mr Reid said spare capacity would have to be maintained in the system in case of a second wave of the virus later this year.Tags: