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CORONAVIRUS LATEST: Stark warning that ‘difficult decisions’ lie ahead for doctors

‘Care for all patients during this pandemic will be prioritised on the principle of who is most likely to benefit from treatment’ – Dr Stout

CORONAVIRUS LATEST: Stark warning that ‘difficult decisions’ lie ahead for doctors

A doctor has said that ‘difficult decisions’ will have to be made as the COVID-19 pandemic progresses in Northern Ireland.

The GP’s comments come after a Derry woman whose father contracted coronavirus in a care home claimed that patients with the illness in homes weren’t being taken to hospital for intensive care.

Alan Stout, chair of BMA’s Northern Ireland general practitioners committee, cautioned that ‘difficult decisions’ lie ahead for doctors but added that it would be ‘wrong’ to prioritise patients on the basis of age or disability.

He explained: “Our members will continue to provide the safest and best care they can to their patients.  There will no doubt be difficult decisions to be made in all areas of health and social care as the COVID-19 pandemic progresses and pressure on services increases. 

“This is why it is vitally important that there is advanced care planning for patients in care homes should they become unwell.”

Dr Stout continued: “Care for all patients during this pandemic will be prioritised on the principle of who is most likely to benefit from treatment, the severity of the COVID infection and relevant clinical facts.  It would be wrong to prioritise on the basis of age or disability. 

“We would continue to call on the public to support our doctors, nurses and all frontline healthcare workers, who are all working under extremely pressurised conditions to treat and care for COVID-19 patients, by staying at home as much as you possibly can. Lives depend on it.”

The Department of Health was asked if there is any difference in policy approach for the treatment of patients with COVID-19 in care homes.

A spokesperson for the Department refuted that suggestion saying: “The assessment for admission to hospital will be identical for the resident of a care home as for an individual in their own home. 

“Similarly, admission to an ICU will be based on the same assessment for all patients and their residential status is not a consideration.”

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