Northern Ireland news

Surge in Covid admissions and nursing shortages leaves Craigavon Area Hospital at 'breaking point', claim

Craigavon area Hospital is at the centre of an independent health service investigation following a coronavirus outbreak linked to the deaths of six patients

A CO ARMAGH hospital which was at the centre of a coronavirus cluster linked to the deaths of six patients has reached "breaking point" due to a surge in admissions, an MLA has claimed.

Craigavon Area Hospital yesterday issued an urgent appeal, asking the public to only attend if absolutely necessary due to "extreme pressures" dealing with Covid cases.

Upper Bann SDLP Assembly member Dolores Kelly said she was contacted by a number of frontline staff who told her the crisis was linked to a shortage of nurses and growing covid patient numbers.

"The hospital is at breaking point and the staff are at breaking point," Ms Kelly said.

An outbreak in the hospital's haematology ward in August is now at the centre of a high-level independent investigation after six vulnerable patients died.

DUP MLA for the area, Jonathan Buckley, said he had discussed the pressures with a Southern health trust chief yesterday.

Mr Buckley said there are 55 positive cases in the hospital.

"To put this in perspective at the height of the first surge in Covid 19 there was 63 positive cases. There is also approximately 500 staff, throughout the Southern trust, on leave for Covid related reasons," he added.

"I would ask people to please only use Emergency Department if absolutely necessary, urgent and unavoidable.

"We must work with our hospital in managing the pressures they are facing."

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