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Northern Ireland's specialist care centres lift Covid-19 pressure

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Ursula Brennan

Ursula Brennan

Ursula Brennan

Specialist Covid-19 community care centres are succeeding in keeping the majority of patients out of hospital, it has emerged.

Doctors working in the centres believe the majority of patients attending are being treated without having to be admitted to hospital.

The centres have been set up to allow people with coronavirus or suspected coronavirus to see a doctor - either because they are struggling with Covid-19 symptoms or need attention for a different medical condition.

This helps to manage the risk to staff and patients in GP surgeries and reduces pressure on emergency departments and wards.

More than 1,000 people have been seen by GPs working at the Covid-19 centres across Northern Ireland between April 1 and 9.

According to figures, an average of nine in every 10 patients turning up to the centres are being assessed, treated and sent home without needing hospital treatment.

Dr Ursula Brennan has been working to establish the Covid-19 centre at Beech Hall Health and Wellbeing Centre on the Andersonstown Road in west Belfast.

She explained: "I knew that setting up this service was really important because we needed a middle ground between GP surgeries and emergency departments."

Patients contact their GP surgery by telephone and are assessed by a doctor who decides whether they need an appointment at a Covid-19 centre. If they have been diagnosed as having the virus or they have coronavirus symptoms, they are given an appointment slot to attend.

Patients are asked to attend alone, they must wear masks, they are asked to regularly wash their hands and must follow a set route throughout the facility.

Belfast Telegraph