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NI health service will have enough capacity for critically ill patients, says chief scientific adviser amid surge in Covid cases

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Staff members work at a desk in the ICU (Victoria Jones/PA)

Staff members work at a desk in the ICU (Victoria Jones/PA)

PA

Staff members work at a desk in the ICU (Victoria Jones/PA)

Northern Ireland’s chief scientific officer has said he is confident there will be sufficient intensive care capacity for critically ill patients in the coming weeks.

Professor Ian Young said patient numbers are likely to peak “sometime in the last two weeks of this month”, but he believes bed and staff numbers will be adequate to cope with demand.

He was responding to comments made by an ICU nurse who has warned doctors will have to withdraw care from patients to make way for people who have a better chance of survival.

Prof Young said: “The modelling suggests the number of people requiring critical care is likely to be greater than the first or second wave.

“We know a huge amount of planning has gone into ensuring there is…capacity within the system to allow everyone who needs management in critical care will receive it”.

The chief medical officer, Dr Michael McBride, said it is too late to stop the number of people who will become seriously ill from the virus in the coming weeks.

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Stormont’s Chief Scientific Advisor Professor Ian Young

Stormont’s Chief Scientific Advisor Professor Ian Young

Stormont’s Chief Scientific Advisor Professor Ian Young

He said the projected patient numbers are a direct consequence of the “mixing that occurred over the Christmas period”.

And he poured cold water on hopes that the lockdown in Northern Ireland will be lifted on February 6.

Last week, the Executive announced a number of additional measures in a bid to ease the pressure on Northern Ireland’s health service.

These included the extension of remoted learning until the mid-term break in February, enhanced measures to limit contacts between individuals in domestic settings, and preventing people from leaving home without a reasonable excuse.

At the time, the Executive said the restrictions “will be in place until February 6 and will be reviewed on January 21”.

However, speaking this afternoon, Dr McBride described the proposed schedule as “optimistic in the extreme”.

Belfast Telegraph


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