BREAKING: “We are in war time”, warns UHL consultant

Dr Catherine Motherway

THE head of the intensive care unit at University Hospital Limerick, Dr Catherine Motherway, has warned that the health system “is in war time” and that some healthcare services will have to shut down if Covid figures continue to rise.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland today, Dr Motherway said that healthcare staff are “stretched and operating on a day-to-day basis” and noted that patients may not receive the same level of care as they would “in peace time”.

She also revealed that half of the ICU capacity at UHL currently revolves around caring for Covid-19 patients, and that scheduled surgeries are being cancelled.

Dr Motherway explained that the hospitalised Covid patients include older people with underlying conditions, but also that she is seeing a younger cohort who are presenting with severe Covid symptoms.

She added: “They have come to the ICU because they’re not vaccinated. And if we could get at least to that group. If we could explain to people who have yet to be vaccinated: if you’re young and relatively healthy, and you have a vaccine and you have been vaccinated, you are very unlikely to meet me and my colleagues in intensive care and it’s far better not to meet us than to end up in ICU.”

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Dr Motherway warned that these patients are “extremely ill” and are spending twice as long in ICU than non-Covid patients.

She advised that working from home and decreasing contacts is very important to breaking the chains of transmission, and urged people to “get tested if they have any symptoms”.

Dr Motherway also revealed that she expects that everyone in Ireland will contract Covid-19 at some stage, as the current Delta variant is “extremely transmissible”.

“Delta will move to our population as we’re seeing, but we need it to move slower. And hopefully we will all eventually have acquired immunity – hopefully predominantly through vaccination,” she said.