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Children's clinics for Citywest to ease burden on hospitals

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HSE CEO Paul Reid at the Citywest Convention Centre as it prepared to take in Covid-19 cases.

HSE CEO Paul Reid at the Citywest Convention Centre as it prepared to take in Covid-19 cases.

HSE CEO Paul Reid at the Citywest Convention Centre as it prepared to take in Covid-19 cases.

Some outpatient care is being shifted to a Dublin hotel as hospitals continue to struggle with the effects of Covid-19 on services.

It emerged yesterday that some children's clinics will be held at the Citywest Hotel in Dublin.

The hotel is also being used as a drive-through centre for people who suffer from the eye condition glaucoma and need their eye pressure checked.

The infection control demands of Covid-19 have meant hospitals are operating with less space and see fewer patients in a day.

HSE chief operations officer Anne O'Connor told a briefing yesterday that the Citywest Hotel is also still being used to provide accommodation for people with the virus who cannot self-isolate at home and the recent rise in the disease has led to 174 rooms being filled again.

Outpatient waiting lists breached 600,000 for the first time in July and although there has been a recovery in the numbers of patients seen over the past month, following the downturn in activity due to Covid-19, it is still only at 92pc of the level it was at this time last year.

Ms O'Connor said there has been more headway made in reducing inpatient waiting lists for surgery.

Risk

Referring to residential and nursing homes she said just one was now in the red, or high-risk, zone.

Earlier it emerged that some people who are now testing positive for Covid-19 have been in close contact with up to 50 others.

The scale of the risk emerged amid fears about the resurgence of the virus and criticism of the HSE for delays in testing and tracing.

HSE chief Paul Reid said the recent spike in demand for tests, as well as the complexity in cases, including language difficulties, had led to a slowdown, but he said the delays have now been reduced again.

The median time from referral for a test to the tracing of contacts is now 2.3 days, down from 2.8 days.

It is quicker in hospital than in the community.

In one day last week 11,000 swabs were carried out.

However, Mr Reid conceded there are also outlier cases where people are left waiting days for a test or a result.

"The surge caused a strain to testing and tracing but we have good escalation processes in place," he said.

There was a 210pc increase in swabbing in recent weeks.

The number of contact tracing centres has now been scaled up to five after services were stood down while levels of the virus were low.

Claims by some academics that the system is falling apart are wrong and unhelpful, Mr Reid said.

Efficient testing and tracing systems account for around 15-20pc in the reduction of the transmission of the virus.

The main way of preventing transmission is people doing the basics, he insisted.

Serial testing is now being extended to include meat plants and direct provision centres.

An oversight group made up of experts, including industry representatives, has now been set up to overlook high-risk work settings.

Areas of weakness that need to be addressed include better occupational health supports, language barriers, cramped working conditions and shared facilities, as well as the area of sick pay, Mr Reid added.