Covid-19: Health trusts in appeal to off-duty staff

Two Northern Ireland health trusts have appealed for off-duty staff to come to work on Sunday evening and overnight due to hospital pressures.

The Belfast and South Eastern trusts said they were under “extreme pressure” due to a rapid increase in patients with Covid-19.

The South Eastern Trust said it had significant staff shortages due to the need for staff to self-isolate.

The trusts made their appeals on Facebook and Twitter on Sunday.

The Belfast Trust said the Royal Victoria and Mater hospitals were affected.

In a tweet, the South Eastern Trust made its staff appeal due to pressures in the system.

A spokesperson for the Department of Health said some surgical procedures may be cancelled due to the “surge in demand”.

They said the impact of Covid-19 was continuing to put “extreme strain” on the health service, with critical care capacity facing “very significant challenges”.

“This is very regrettable and understandably a very anxious time for patients and families.

“Staff are working tirelessly in challenging conditions to treat patients as quickly as possible.”

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.View original tweet on Twitter

In a statement, the Belfast Trust said pressures had arisen due to an intake of Covid-19 patients “in excess of predictions”.

“Our teams are under extreme pressure today in the Royal Victoria Hospital and Mater Hospital as we are caring for an increasing number of Covid-19+ patients, alongside emergency admissions,” the statement said.

“Our sickest patients in the emergency department will be assessed and treated as a priority, but some patients will regrettably have to wait considerably longer to be seen than we would wish.”

A spokesperson for the South Eastern Trust said it is “highly likely” that surgery will be affected in the coming days.

“As with other Trusts in Northern Ireland, the South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust is under extreme pressure both in terms of increasing numbers of patients being admitted to hospital with Covid-19 and higher numbers within intensive care.

“Alongside this, there is significant staff shortages due to the need for staff to self-isolate.”


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The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.View original tweet on Twitter


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In a later tweet, Belfast Trust thanked those who had come forward but reissued an appeal for off-duty registered nurses.

Health Minister Robin Swann tweeted to say the trust did not make such requests of its staff “easily”.

“Unfortunately it is necessary as we continue to maintain the services that are expected,” he said.

Sinn Féin MLA Colm Gildernew said the call for off-duty staff to come into work “is very concerning”

“The health minister must act to ensure safe staffing levels in all hospitals and that all staff are supported.


Health Minister Robin Swann

image copyrightPress Eye

DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson and the party’s health spokesperson Pam Cameron said increasing pressure on the health service demonstrated the need for young people to ensure they take up the offer of Covid vaccination.

In a joint statement, they said the number of people hospitalised with Covid-19 would have an impact on other health services.

They appealed for young people to take up the vaccine.

“Young people have been hugely affected by the impact of Covid restrictions but can now play a significant role in moving forward out of the pandemic.

“It is vital that everyone who is eligible for vaccination takes up that offer.”

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