UL Hospitals Group is from this week gradually scaling up scheduled care capacity, commencing with day surgery and endoscopy services.
The majority of scheduled surgery and outpatient appointments across the Group had been deferred on January 4th as a result of the significant surge in Covid-19 activity early in the New Year. Emergency and time-critical non-Covid care continued to be prioritised during this period.
While the welcome reduction in Covid-19 activity now allows for this limited restoration of services, our health system remains in a recovery phase and the restoration of scheduled care will be phased in gradually, prioritising the most urgent patients.
We are pleased that services reopening this week in a reduced capacity include:
- Endoscopy services in UHL, Nenagh, Ennis and St John’s
- Day Theatres/Surgical Day Ward in Nenagh and Ennis
- Additional theatre lists in St John’s and Croom
- Additional paediatric outpatient appointments
Plans to restore additional capacity for theatre, diagnostic investigations and outpatient appointments will be announced in due course. These plans will involve carefully and slowly returning services in line with the national public health guidance and in a manner which optimises patient care while minimising risks to patients, staff and the wider healthcare system.
Measures introduced last year to keep you safe during your appointment or procedure remain in place. These may include a period of self-isolation, a Covid-19 test, a questionnaire, wearing of personal protective equipment (PPE) and strict social distancing while in our hospitals.
Unfortunately, the visiting ban remains in place across our six hospitals.
Prof Brian Lenehan, Chief Clinical Director, UL Hospitals Group, said: “This week, we mark one year since the first patient with Covid-19 was admitted to UHL. There is hardly a parish in the country that is not by now aware of how devastating a disease it can be. The pandemic has also resulted in inordinate disruption to scheduled care over the past 12 months. Outpatient appointments, inpatient and day case procedures were considerably reduced across the country aligned to the National Action Plan on COVID 19 and the clinical guidance that was developed as part of the response to the pandemic.”
Colette Cowan, CEO, UL Hospitals Group, added: “Our staff have put in tremendous efforts to ensure that access for the most urgent and time-critical patients could continue, while also responding to three surges in Covid-related activity. We have changed how we work and we are now in a position to gradually increase scheduled care. We are asking our patients to bear with us and to continue to adhere to the public health advice as we all look forward to the further easing of restrictions in healthcare and across society.”
The progress of our vaccination campaign provides staff and patients alike with a great deal of reassurance as we look to gradually scale up our services. People who are more likely to attend hospital – the elderly and those with certain chronic underlying conditions – are now being vaccinated at pace. To have three vaccines approved and in use a year out from our first case is a historic achievement and more vaccines are in the pipeline.
The reduction in patients being hospitalised and being admitted to intensive care because of Covid-19 gives us all cause for hope this spring. However, new variants have introduced a level of uncertainty and our overall rates of transmission need to be further suppressed. Healthcare workers have been through a once-in-a-lifetime challenge and we are appealing to the public to bear with us and to continue to follow the public health guidance as our services recover,” Ms Cowan said.