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  • Writer's pictureMichelle Weir (Local Democracy Reporter)

Situation remains ‘complicated’ in local hospitals as pressures continue

The chief executive of the Northern Health and Social Care Trust has offered reassurance over Monkeypox.

Speaking at a meeting of the Trust board on Thursday morning, Jennifer Welsh told members that the Trust has “appropriate pathways in which to manage any presentations”.

The Public Health Agency (PHA) has confirmed that a case of Monkeypox has been identified in Northern Ireland but says that this is “not unexpected following the presence of Monkeypox cases elsewhere in the UK”.

The Trust chief executive also highlighted ongoing pressures being faced by the Northern Trust caused by the Covid pandemic.

She reported that although the number of Covid patients is “much lower” and staff absence due to Covid and self-isolation is “reducing”, pressures are continuing and “remain a challenge”.

Trust board Chairman Bob McCann described the pressures on the service as “significant and unrelenting”.

Neil Martin, the Trust’s interim divisional director of Strategic Development, reported a “steady decline” in Covid patients at Antrim Hospital since the end of winter, which he says, are continuing to decrease as summer approaches with a “similar position” at Causeway Hospital in Coleraine.

He went on to say that the “most recent peak” at Causeway Hospital was in early April with a “handful” of Covid patients in the hospital at present.

“The impact of Covid on our services is still really significant,” he told members.

Audrey Harris, the Trust’s Interim Director of Medicine and Emergency Medicine, reported 11 Covid patients in Antrim Hospital and five in Causeway currently.

“We are still seeing significant Covid presentations at the front doors. Our Covid pod at Antrim remains busy for Covid assessment.”

She noted that although staff absence is reducing, it still remains “challenging”.

She reported increased attendance at Causeway’s emergency department by 11 per cent.

“We are also seeing much sicker, elderly frail patients requiring admission.”

She urged understanding from the community over a remaining requirement for masks to be worn in hospitals.

“It still remains a complicated situation for us,” she stressed.


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