Almost 50% of all patients in Antrim Area Hospital have tested positive for Covid-19, according to the chief executive of the Northern Trust.
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here are currently 840 Covid inpatients across Northern Ireland’s hospitals, with 62 of them in intensive care.
Hospitals here are operating at 95% capacity.
Speaking on BBC NI’s Sunday Politics programme, Northern Trust chief Jennifer Welsh explained that as of Sunday morning, 30 patients in Antrim Area Hospital’s emergency department have received a decision to admit.
However, there are no beds to accommodate them – 24 of those patients have been waiting for more than 12 hours.
Ms Welsh explained that it takes more staff to help care for Covid inpatients and outlined that “if almost half of the patients in Antrim are Covid positive I need more staff to cope with that”.
“At the peak of the first wave across both Antrim and Causeway hospitals, the highest number of Covid positive patients that we had was 73 and then in November in wave two, the highest number that we had was 102,” stated Ms Welsh.
“Here we are beyond that, peaking on Thursday at 202 patients. We have just dropped below that, just slightly.”
She added that the five health trusts have been working together to help cope with the influx of Covid-19 patients.
“You’ll recall that Antrim was in significant difficulty mid-December with many ambulances – 17 in total – waiting outside at one point,” said Ms Welsh.
“We got signifiant help and support from colleagues right across the system, particularly the Belfast Trust and South Eastern Trust.
“You saw the footage last week in terms of the pressures at Craigavon and Daisy Hill, and again the system has pulled together to transfer patients to the South West Acute Hospital, to the Ulster [Hospital] and into the Belfast hospitals as well.
“We are pulling together as an entire system to make sure that we can deliver the care urgently to those who need it.”
Ms Welsh explained that Northern Ireland’s trusts have only been able to deal with the surge in patients because so many other services have been stood down.
“If I think about the Covid patients that we have in our hospitals at the moment – a lot of very sick people needing enhanced respiratory support and obviously some of them needing intensive care,” she said.
“So it is a higher level of nursing, a higher level of medical input, more interventions and more kit.
“A lot of these people even in intensive care are needing other organ support.”
Appealing to the public to take care, Ms Welsh said it is clear that the figures are starting to reduce but warned we are “a long way from being out of the woods”.
“The Covid numbers are just about on the turn from the perspective of new positive cases,” she continued.
“There’s the lag time then into those needing enhanced respiratory support and that’s what we’re experiencing just at the moment.”