More inpatients across Southern Trust than at peak of first surge, warns Chief Executive

Sixteen people have died from coronavirus at Craigavon Hospital

Craigavon Area Hospital

Adam Morton

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Adam Morton

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Local Democracy Reporter

There are now more patients in hospital beds across the Southern Health and Social Care Trust than at the peak of the first COVID-19 surge, according to the Trust’s Chief Executive.

Addressing a virtual meeting of the Southern Health and Social Care Trust Board, Shane Devlin provided members with an update on how the Trust is coping with COVID-19 at present.

Mr Devlin told members the second surge is here and the challenges facing the Trust are greater than they were during the first surge.

He alerted members to the large number of inpatients, the public’s use of the emergency department, the prevalence of COVID-19 within the area encompassed by the Southern Trust and the pressures on staffing.

He started by explaining that during the first surge, the largest number of inpatients across the Southern Trust at any point was 63.

Mr Devlin said that as of October 21, there were 77 inpatients across the Southern Trust.

“That is really important for the Board to understand,” said Mr Devlin. “We are now in the second surge and the numbers are already higher in terms of inpatients in our system. That is a huge pressure on our system.

“The first surge was a different environment to what we are in now. In the first surge people did not come to the emergency department, we are in a different position now.”

Mr Devlin said the prevalence of COVID-19 within the community and the rate of community transmission is “much higher” now as well.

“The testing capacity has increased since the first surge and that could lead to more cases of the virus being found but I think it is really important to note the rate of COVID-19 per 100,000 of the population,” he said.

“In the Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council region across the last seven days the rate per 100,000 is about 260 per 100,000.

“In the Mid Ulster District Council region it has been in the high 400s and recently, by looking at the post code data around positive tests, the Dungannon area appears to be very hot.

“In terms of Newry, Mourne and Down the seven day average has been well over 300 for the last three weeks as well.”

The Chief Executive then informed members that on October 22 there were over 500 people across the Trust unable to work as a result of a COVID-19 related issue.

“That does not necessarily mean they have had a positive COVID-19 test but they may be shielding or have a family member with symptoms,” said Mr Devlin.

“We have demand for our services that is greater than we had during the first surge and our resourcing challenge, in terms of staff, is considerable.”

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