Concern at Altnagelvin Hospital after patients cancel surgery due to ‘Covid fears’

Geraldine McKay

Geraldine McKay, Director of Acute Services at the Western Trust

A Director at the Western Trust has expressed concern after around 13 patients cancelled surgeries in the past fortnight due to ‘Covid fears’.

The comments were made by Geraldine McKay, Director of Acute Services at the Western Trust during a Covid briefing on Friday.

She said Altnagelvin Hospital currently has 63 Covid positive patients with eleven of those in critical care in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU).

The hospital is at ‘high surge’ across its wards.

Critical care is at medium surge meaning between 10-13 beds are in use.

Mrs McKay said there have been a number of deaths since October 3 across both Altnagelvin Hospital and South West Acute Hospital (SWAH).

“The total today at Altnagelvin is 35 and SWAH is 7,” she added.

In surge one at Altnagelvin the highest number of patients on site at any one time was 35 but this time round the peak has been 77.

On the weekend of October 16-17 Altnagelvin had up to 71 patients which had an impact on surgical services when cancer surgeries had to be cancelled.

The hospital was under a lot of pressure at that time and did not have capacity for 14 cancer patients who required surgery.

All of those patients subsequently had their surgeries completed by November 5.

At the moment all red flag surgery is being maintained – inpatient, day case and endoscopy.

However, in recent weeks there has been ‘slight concern’ over thirteen patients who have cancelled their surgery.

Mrs McKay explained: “This is related to Covid fears and a fear of coming to the hospital.

“We are monitoring this on a daily basis, we are contacting those patients and putting in place arrangements to reduce the fears that they have and encouraging them to come for their surgery.

“But it’s just something else that has become an impact of where we are at the moment and something we’re keeping a close eye on.”

At the Derry hospital on Friday, 492 or 10 per cent of the workforce were not available and in the community 697 or 10.8 per cent of workers were absent.

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