HSE says biggest cost is PPE, testing and tracing

The Health Service Executive has spent an additional 400 million on Covid-19 related costs so far, and is projecting a possible 1.8 billion cost for treating the disease to the end of the year.
The biggest drivers of cost are personal protective equipment (PPE) and testing and tracing, according to HSE chief executive Paul Reid.
As a result of the extra spending, the cost base of next years HSE service plan will be significantly increased, he warned.
Mr Reid said the cost of PPE, which is expected to be about 1 billion this year, has been driven by the massive premium that had to be paid for scarce equipment and the cost of supplying large volumes to the HSE family and beyond, to the wider healthcare system.
Next years winter plan would be very different from this years, he said, and the HSE corporate plan would also have to be redesigned.
Mr Reid said he was concerned about capacity for next winter, especially the need to step this up quickly. We will need extra capacity in a way he hadnt got last year. We should be at 80 per cent (capacity) but were well over that at present.
Services need to be redesigned, sustainable models of primary care and the provision of elective care has to be addressed, Mr Reid said.
Timeframes for plans would have to be recalibrated from existing 10-year spans, and capacity will have to be built to cope with the new reality of post Covid-19 healthcare.
Were winning so far but its a long game, Mr Reid said of the performance of the health service, but now we have to develop new plans within the HSE to deliver services in a different way.
The turnaround time for testing has significantly improved, Mr Reid said. End-to-end turnaround from the time a person reports symptoms to a result is now a median of 1.8 days, down from 2 days the previous week.
The tests processed in hospital labs, the turnaround time is 1.5 days; in the community, the average time is 2.3 days.
Some 86 per cent of tests are processed end-to-end within three days, just short of the 90 per cent target.
Last week, 1,500 calls were made as part of the contact tracing operation, and 255 close contacts were sent for testing. Of these, 14 tested positive, and 90 per cent of this group were asymptomatic.
There are currently 226 patients in hospital with confirmed or suspected Covid-19, including 32 in intensive care.
Some 734 beds in hospitals are currently free, including 91 in intensive care, according to HSE chief operations officer Anne OConnor.
Emergency department attendances increased by 2.8 per cent last week, and are only slightly below last years levels, she said. Attendances by over 75-year-olds is up on last year.
Three residential care facilities are considered to be at significant risk, and 19 require significant supports, she said.
Last week, 10 million items of PPE were delivered to almost 700 healthcare facilities.