Coronavirus: Covid-19 assessment centre to open in Derry

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Altnagelvin Hospital

 

Image caption

The centre will open at Altnagelvin Hospital

A new centre to assess people with coronavirus will open in Londonderry on Wednesday.

Suspected cases will be assessed by GPs at the out-of-hours Western Urgent Care building at Altnagelvin Hospital.

The most seriously ill patients will then be transferred to specialist wards

Dr Tom Black from the British Medical Association (BMA) said it was hoped 13 of the centres would be operating within a week.

They are not test centres and are not for walk-ins.

The centres allow assessments for coronavirus to be moved away from normal GP practices to help manage the large numbers of people who are expected to get the virus.

They will also allow GP practices to stay open for triage and non-coronavirus consultations and it is hoped it will stop too many GPs and their staff becoming infected at the same time.

Dr Black said GPs would be drafted in from their own practices to treat coronavirus patients with the appropriate care.

 
 

He described the new centre as the “middle ground” for the moderate to severe cases that need assessed.

“We need to make sure the only ones that get into hospital are the ones that need to go to hospital,” he said.

‘Not a walk-in service’

He told BBC Radio Foyle the centres were not walk-in services and people will not be tested for coronavirus at them.

“You phone your GP as usual, your GP will talk to you advise you whether to go there or not.

“Some will be advised to stay home and others will be so severe they will be sent to Altnagelvin by ambulance,” he explained.

Dr Black said the centre would categorise the most at-risk patients and determine where best to place them, as resources will soon be limited.

“We are going to run out of hospital beds, intensive care units and ventilators very quickly,” he said.

Other health measures

Earlier in March it was announced the Mater Hospital will be the main site for treating coronavirus patients in the Belfast Health Trust Area.

Meanwhile Northern Ireland’s health service is to to access all hospital beds across the private sector.

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