The number of cancelled admissions as a result of the surge in demand upon Northern Ireland’s hospitals stands not far below 200.
The Health and Social Care Board (HSCB) released statistics showing that patients in the Northern Trust area have been worst affected, with 68 such cases, out of 179 Province-wide.
The News Letter had requested them on Wednesday amid a wave of concern over a spike in hospital attendances, particularly in emergency departments.
The figures cover “elective admissions” (meaning such things as non-urgent surgeries and check-ups) from the start of January up until Friday January 9, and the HSCB warned the numbers may still change.
They also reveal a radical variation among regions, with Belfast and the Western Trust having 47 and 45 cancellations respectively, while the South Eastern Trust had 18, and the Southern Trust just one.
The HSCB reaffirmed it will try to reschedule all procedures as soon as possible.
Michael Bloomfield, HSCB director of performance management and corporate services, said the number of postponed procedures was “regrettable.”
It also provided figures on A&E admissions.
On Monday across Northern Ireland, 1,900 patients turned up at A&E units.
This figure dropped to 1,560 on Tuesday and 1,456 on Wednesday.
The HSCB said a “concerted effort” to relieve pressure continues, by making more staff and beds available.
Michael McGimpsey, UUP member of Stormont’s health committee, said that he expects this latest surge to be discussed at its upcoming meeting on Wednesday.
“The bottom line is the health service is being underfunded,” he said.
“There’s no magic answer to this, other than to find extra funds for the health service.”
Asked if he is concerned that the health service could be in the same situation this time next year, he said: “I think we could be seeing the same thing in a month’s time the way things are going.”
On Wednesday a spokesman for Health Minister Jim Wells said that the surge in demand had not been confined just to Northern Ireland, or to A&E departments.
He said: “The minister looks to the HSCB and HSC trusts to continue to work together to significantly improve performance.”