Northern Ireland news

North's health service facing worst pressure in 20 years, consultant warns

Leading consultant Dr David Farren has said the north's health service is under the worst pressure it's faced for two decades.
Paul Ainsworth

PATIENTS are set to miss out on treatment due to increasing pressure in the north's hospitals, a leading consultant has warned.

Dr David Farren, a specialist in infection prevention and control at the Northern Health Trust, has said the current pressure faced by the health service is the worst he has seen in 20 years of practice.

The senior consultant said winter viruses are set to increase the pressure already caused by the pandemic, and said he fears a new variant of the virus, called Delta Plus, could exacerbate the problem in the weeks and months ahead.

Speaking to the BBC yesterday, Dr Farren referred to the numbers waiting for treatment at emergency departments across the north's hospitals on Wednesday morning. He said at one stage 101 people were awaiting treatment, while 64 were awaiting admission to the departments.

He said: "Those aren't small numbers," adding that this was "not a place we want to be at this stage".

"What we've had for the last 18 months, to be perfectly honest, are pressures that I have never seen in the health service in 20 years of being a doctor," he said.

"What we could be seeing coming down the tracks is exceptional pressures on hospitals, the likes of which we've never seen and we will be unable to provide healthcare in the way we have provided it in the past.

"People will not get into hospital to get the procedures they require or get the treatments that they require."

Experts are currently studying the new Covid variant and have found it contains mutations that could help it survive better than other types.

However, it has yet to be determined if the variant is considerably more transmissible or resistant to current vaccines.

"Eventually infections like this tend to get less and less severe and it will just become part of daily life, but we're not there yet," Dr Farren added.

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