I would like to pass on my best wishes to the Ceann Comhairle and wish him a speedy recovery from Covid-19.
I want to continue on the issue of capacity in intensive care units. As stated, an organ was unable to be used for transplant because of a lack of capacity in ICU. Transplant operations are very complex and may, on many occasions, be cancelled for a number of compatibility reasons. However, for an operation to be cancelled because of a lack of an ICU bed is cripplingly devastating to the person who needed that transplant and the person's family. It is also very difficult for organ donors and their families throughout the country, who really want their organs to go to help and cure others.
The Government is struggling to run the country around a hospital system that is breaking down. That is a fact. We are creating policy and trying to protect our society around a hospital system that is broken down. At the centre of that is ICU capacity. The EU average for ICU beds is 11.5 per 100,000 of population. In Ireland, it is just under 6.5 per 100,000. The Department's own capacity review in 2018, before Covid, undertook to have 330 ICU beds by the end of 2021. The Taoiseach mentioned that resources are not an issue. However, we are at the end of 2021 and, at just under 300 beds, we are nowhere near 330. With resources not being an issue, why are we not near that target?
Dr. Catherine Motherway, in another arresting contribution on "Morning Ireland" this morning, said that, with the Delta variant, it is likely that everyone in this country will get Covid at some stage and it is vital we slow down that spread. Unfortunately, the booster campaign is playing catch-up with a virus that is running rampant throughout our society. Delayed decision-making from the Government has impacted the ability of the booster campaign to roll out effectively. Some people are being called for boosters very early but there are older people who have not been called yet. They are waiting by the telephone for a call that has not come and are losing faith it will come. The world-beating mass vaccination infrastructure that made us so proud is still focused on the first and second vaccines, not the booster. When will that infrastructure be shifted to the booster campaign? At the moment, it is going primarily through the GP service and that is leading to delays, frustration and people not getting their booster in time.
Tens of thousands of people are trying to get PCR tests, with demand outstripping supply. How many permanent intensive care unit, ICU, beds, not including surge capacity beds, will be in place by the end of this year? What long-term planning is the Taoiseach doing to ensure that we meet not only our own targets, but that we get up to EU average of 11.5 ICU beds per 100,000 people?