Up to 112 hospital beds will be provided by private clinics across Northern Ireland during the coronavirus pandemic.
Health officials have agreed contracts with Kingsbridge Private Hospital and the Ulster Independent Clinic, both in south Belfast, as well as the North West Independent Clinic in Ballykelly, Co Londonderry, to enable the NHS to provide care to patients who need urgent treatment for non-Covid-19 conditions.
The contracts will ensure as many people as possible continue to get treatment while the health service comes under increasing demand in the coming weeks as more and more people develop serious complications as a result of coronavirus.
It is understood the three main private hospitals in Northern Ireland will concentrate primarily on surgery for cancer patients initially.
This will be a welcome development for many people, who have had diagnostic procedures and surgeries cancelled or postponed despite the fact they have a suspected cancer.
The hospitals will provide access to their entire estates, including operating theatres and ventilators, and their staff, such as nurses, radiographers, physiotherapists and anaesthetists, will also provide care to NHS patients.
The health service will supply the surgeons for any operations that are carried out.
The contracts have been agreed on the basis that the hospitals will be used on a not-for-profit, cost recovery only basis for the duration of the pandemic.
Mark Regan, CEO of Kingsbridge Private Hospital, said he expects the first operations to begin tomorrow.
"I am delighted to say that within the next few days Kingsbridge Private Hospital and its staff will partner our peers and colleagues in the local NHS to facilitate urgent surgery for those affected by non-Covid, disease and injury," he said.
"As we mentioned before, in agreeing to facilitate trusts in this initiative we will therefore be providing all of the main hospital beds and theatres on a not-for-profit, cost recovery basis for the duration of the pandemic, over the coming months.
"It is estimated that this arrangement will last until July but will be kept under review.
"The hospital will not be undertaking any private surgery during this period. Currently the HSC Trusts are identifying and scheduling the patients who can be treated at Kingsbridge. The initial focus in the coming days and weeks will be upon urgent elective cancer surgeries."