Almost a third more coronavirus patients in NI hospitals in last 24 hours

Almost a third more coronavirus patients in NI hospitals in last 24 hours

Almost a third more coronavirus patients in NI hospitals in last 24 hours.

A clap for carers at the height of the pandemic at the tower block at Belfast City Hospital, which hosts a Nightingale facility

According to the latest data from the Stormont health department, the number of hospital patients increased from 64 on Monday to 85 by this afternoon.

This comes as the Health Minister Robin Swann announced a new surge plan to deal with the influx of patients expected over the winter.

The minister announced the plans in the Assembly today, where he warned MLAs the health system is facing “a huge and daunting challenge”.

“Our health and social care system is very likely to face the most challenging winter that it has ever experienced,” he said.

He said a key part of the surge plan is to try and ensure non-coronavirus services can still continue.

He spoke specifically about cancer patients in the Assembly today.

During the first wave of the virus, several services for cancer patients were halted as medics prepared for the influx of coronavirus patients.

Mr Swann said: “A number of key regional initiatives are outlined in the surge planning strategic framework.

“Those include establishing dedicated centres for day case and orthopaedic procedures and the establishment of a regional cancer reset cell to oversee the resumption of screening, diagnosis and treatment of cancer patients in clinically safe environments as quickly as possible and to protect those services as much as possible in the event of future potential surges of Covid-19.”

The surge plan also comes amid pleas from the Royal College of Surgeons (RCS) to ensure surgeries can still go ahead even amid a rise in the number of patients being admitted to hospitals with the virus.

The organisation’s Northern Ireland director Mark Taylor, a consultant surgeon at the Mater Hospital, told the BBC it is important to “ring-fence beds, theatres and most importantly staff to work in the theatres even with a second wave”.

His comments echoed the views of surgeons across the UK in a survey carried out by the RCS.

Mr Swann addressed those calls in the Assembly, saying: “The report is an important contribution at this time, especially as it is coming from clinicians who are working on the frontline. I will meet the royal college tomorrow morning, just as I have done on a number of occasions before, and I am quite certain that the report will be discussed then.”

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Almost a third more coronavirus patients in NI hospitals in last 24 hours.

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