Army medics on way back to Northern Ireland to help combat health crisis

Army medics will soon be back in Northern Ireland to help combat the ongoing crisis in the health service.

Friday, 24th September 2021, 8:05 pm
Updated Saturday, 25th September 2021, 1:43 pm
Army medics

Around 100 of the service personnel are expected to bolster staff numbers at the Ulster and City Hospitals in Belfast throughout October.

Health Minister Robin Swann confirmed the news on Friday afternoon

“I gladly welcome the approval of my request for military assistance to ease the current pressures on our hospitals,” he said in a Twitter message.

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“This is an important practical step to support our health and care staff at this extremely challenging time. I know our staff will appreciate this support,” Mr Swann added.

He said the request for military assistance was made recently as the health service was “under pressure as never before”.

More than 100 of the Combat Medical Technicians were deployed to Northern Ireland in January this year as hospitals struggled to cope with the post-Christmas surge in coronavirus cases.

On Friday, Mr Swann said that he was “determined to activate any measure that can alleviate the situation in any way”.

He said: “The current situation is different to the pressures in the earlier stages of the pandemic.

“We have the ongoing and serious Covid threat combined with a growing pressure cooker environment right across health and social care.”

Speaking to the BBC, Mr Swann said: “Staff are exhausted, having been facing the pandemic and its repercussions day in, day out, month in, month out, for the best part of two years.”

He said the “system simply doesn’t have the capacity to deal with the levels of need and demand coming in”.

The news comes as eight further deaths of patients who had tested positive for Covid-19 have been reported in Northern Ireland.

The Department of Health said there had also been 1,030 new confirmed cases in the last 24-hour reporting period.

At the time of the Army medics’ previous deployment the chief nursing officer, Professor Charlotte McArdle, told the Assembly’s health committee that the medics – who were deployed as senior nursing assistants at three hospitals – were a valuable addition to the medical staff at the hospitals.