A number of doctors due to start work at embattled Letterkenny University Hospital have been delayed because of Covid.
The non-consultant medics were due to start work in mid-July.
The hospital is at breaking point with some ICU patients being transferred to Galway University Hospital for treatment in recent days.
This is compounded by an increase in patients as well as the recent cyber-attack.
A spokesperson for the Saolta group which runs the hospital said all the factors have increased to put pressure on staff and management.
The spokesperson said “These pressures have been exacerbated by the fact that a number of our non-consultant doctors in training change over in mid July, as happens in all training Hospitals in Ireland.
“This year there have been significant delays for some doctors entering the country as a result of COVID-19.
“Although LUH has recruited its full complement of Doctors in Emergency Medicine, a number of these doctors have been delayed in joining the team for the reasons outlined above.”
The spokesperson added that some ICU patients had been transferred but this was “agreed practice.”
“All Hospitals within the Saolta Group co-operate to support each other in respect of ICU capacity throughout the Group. Three patients were transferred from ICU in LUH to UHG this week. This is the agreed practice when ICU is at capacity, when it is clinically safe for the patient to be transferred and when there are available ICU beds elsewhere within the Saolta group.
“LUH have escalation ICU beds available when needed to care for COVID-19 and Non COVID-19 patients in separate facilities. This capacity has been triggered with the additional beds opened over the past two weeks.
“In-patient and day case surgery theatre lists have been maintained throughout.
“We wrote to our GP colleagues on the 13th July 2021 informing them that we are currently experiencing extremely high demand in the ED Department.
“We notified them, that as a consequence, patients of lower clinical parity would unfortunately experience significant delays. We asked the GPS to assist us by exploring all appropriate pathways of care for their patients.”
The spokseperson added “LUH is experiencing a large increase in Emergency Department attendances, for example in January the number of Emergency Department attendances was just over 2,500 but in June and July it was 4,000.
“As we previously highlighted many of our IT systems have not returned to full functionality following the Cyberattack and this has increased the time it takes our medical staff to review and diagnose patients.”