Nightingale hospital to reopen for Covid-19 admissions from across N Ireland

Northern Ireland’s Nightingale hospital is to be re-established for admission of Covid patients from across the region.

Stormont health minister Robin Swann said he had been reluctant to take the step but had been left with no alternative in the face of “rapidly escalating pressures” on all five of the region’s health trusts.

The Nightingale hospital, which is located in Belfast City Hospital, was stood down after the peak of the first wave of the pandemic passed.

On Tuesday, the Belfast Trust announced it was to use an intensive care unit in the Nightingale facility for its Covid patients.

That move only impacted the Belfast Trust area.

Mr Swann’s announcement on Wednesday afternoon will see the facility reopen for Covid-19 admission from across Northern Ireland.

“This afternoon, in light of further sustained growth in the level of patients requiring admission on ventilation, I have formally agreed to the Nightingale once again becoming a regional Northern Ireland-wide facility,” he told a Stormont press conference.

“It’s not something I wanted to do and it’s a decision I tried to hold off on for as long as possible.

“However, we are now in a place of all trusts reporting rapidly escalating pressures, the virus is spreading exponentially and urgent action was needed.”

The move comes as several hospitals across Northern Ireland have cancelled elective procedures to cope with the added coronavirus pressures.

The Belfast Trust has cancelled 105 planned surgeries at Belfast City Hospital and Musgrave Park Hospital for the next two weeks to free up staff to respond to the worsening situation.

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