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Belfast's Nightingale hospital 'will continue to admit new patients'


The new Northern Ireland Nightingale wards are designed to treat coronavirus sufferers at Belfast City Hospital.

The new Northern Ireland Nightingale wards are designed to treat coronavirus sufferers at Belfast City Hospital.

Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph

The new Northern Ireland Nightingale wards are designed to treat coronavirus sufferers at Belfast City Hospital.

Northern Ireland's NHS Nightingale hospital is to keep admitting new patients, the Belfast Trust has confirmed.

It comes after Downing Street said that London's Nightingale would stop taking in coronavirus admissions but would remain on standby.

However, the Belfast City Hospital tower designated as the Nightingale here "continues to accept patients at this time", the Belfast Trust said.

Coronavirus Data Graphs

As of Tuesday, Department of Health figures showed that of Northern Ireland's 102 Intensive Care Unit beds, 26 were occupied by patients with suspected - or tested positive for - Covid-19.

A further 50 individuals were in ICU for other conditions, while 26 beds were available.

It was also revealed that a further 17 deaths had been reported, bringing the current total of virus deaths here to 404, based on Department of Health data.

Belfast Trust was asked how many of the 26 ICU patients were currently in the Nightingale, which was set up at the start of April with 230 beds.

A spokesperson said: "We certainly do not have all 26 confirmed Covid ICU cases in Nightingale, this would be shared across Mater, Nightingale and acute sites within other Trusts.

"Additionally, the 102 ICU beds mean beds are those that are already within the system across the region. In Nightingale, we have capacity to flex up to 230 should it be required, but those wouldn't be considered in these figures."

A spokesperson for the Department of Health said that hospitals here have managed "critical care demand without the need for regional escalation" and credited it to precautionary measures taken by the public.

They said: "The BCH tower was designated as Northern Ireland's Nightingale in the event of an extreme surge.

"Fortunately, the impact of social distancing has meant that individual Trusts have been able to manage critical care demand without the need for regional escalation.

"The Nightingale is currently being used to treat a mixture of Covid-19 patients requiring critical care and acute medical care."

On Monday, it emerged London's Nightingale is to stop admitting new patients following limited demand for its services.

The Prime Minister's official spokesman said no new coronavirus admissions were expected at the hospital in east London's ExCel centre in the coming days.

Although it will not accept new patients, the temporary hospital will remain on "standby" should it need to resume operations in the future.

In April, the Department of Health announced it would be designating BCH's tower block as Northern Ireland's first Nightingale Hospital.

At the time, the Department said they were "continuing to assess the potential of the Eikon Centre at Balmoral Park, Maze as a second Nightingale facility to further increase bed capacity later this year in preparation for any further wave of the coronavirus, should this occur".

Meanwhile, it was reported that last Friday London's Nightingale had only 19 patients, down from a peak of around 35 earlier in April.

A new Nightingale hospital on Wearside, for the North East of England, officially opened yesterday, but could end up being used solely as a "reserve capacity".

Belfast Telegraph

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