DUP Westminster leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson has expressed concern around the number of people dying during the Covid-19 pandemic because they are reluctant to seek medical help.
He appealed to the UK Government to do more to support those with non-coronavirus related problems in hospitals.
Speaking during Prime Minister’s Questions Sir Jeffrey cited Wednesday morning’s front page story in the Belfast Telegraph on concerns over the true extent on deaths indirectly caused by the coronavirus outbreak.
New figures revealed almost 180 additional non-Covid deaths were recorded over a three-week period in April.
Sir Jeffrey asked his question remotely via video link from his home due to the current social distancing restrictions in place.
He also passed on congratulations from himself and his party to Prime Minister Boris Johnson and partner Carrie Symonds on the birth of their son.
He asked Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, once again standing in for Mr Johnson, what steps the Government intends to take to ensure more people are able to attend hospitals for treatment, including cancer patients.
Mr Raab paid tribute to the work of Sir Jeffrey and the Northern Ireland Executive “at this difficult time”.
He said Sir Jeffrey was “right to raise the challenge” the NHS is facing around non-Covid-19 patients.
The Foreign Secretary said the Government had all the measures in place “not just to deal with coronavirus, but to deal with other non-Covid priorities whether they are urgent or whether they are in relation to other forms of treatment”.
Mr Raab said he was willing to work with Health Secretary Matt Hancock and Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis “to make sure in relation to any particular challenges faced in Northern Ireland that we can deal with them and address them”.
“It’s absolutely crucial as we go through this crisis that the NHS capacity is protected and that’s one of the reasons that we introduced the social distancing measures and why they have been so effective,” he said.