A Consultant Surgeon has said that it is “without question” that an increase in non-Covid deaths will arise as people are no longer able to access healthcare services during the pandemic.

Professor Michael O’Keefe, Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon at the Mater Private Hospital and Beacon Hospital, was asked by Ivan Yates on VMTV last night if he thought that a decrease in people attending screenings or surgeries meant “we were storing up trouble for ourselves”.

“[We’re storing up] massive trouble I’d say, with people with severe morbidity or mortality as a result of this,” Prof O’Keefe replied.

“The health system hasn’t functioned for probably six to eight weeks in any capacity because of Covid, understandably, there have been no clinics, no routine surgery, no screening. Now, some of the patients with cancer, who have existing conditions, they are being treated but people with new diagnoses are not being treated yet, so there’s a whole raft of people thousands of them [not being treated]. .

Ivan Yates asked if this would lead to more “non-Covid deaths”.

“Absolutely, without question, that’s going to happen,” asserted Prof O’Keefe

 

Previously Prof O’Keefe told Newstalk that figures from the UK indicated that 70% of cancer patients are not being treated, with cardiac patients estimated to be at a similar percentage.

Some commentators point out that the Irish health service is being under-utilised, with public hospitals being used at just 60% of capacity, while private hospitals are 73% empty according to Prof O’Keefe at a cost to the taxpayer of €115 a month.