A number of scheduled cancer surgeries have been cancelled in Belfast to free up staff to deal with increasing Covid inpatients.

The Belfast Health and Social Care Trust apologised for the distress the move would cause for the affected patients and their families.

Last week the trust announced that around 100 non-urgent planned procedures were being rescheduled as part of efforts to re-orientate services to deal with the latest surge in coronavirus admissions.

In a statement this evening, the trust confirmed that a number of cancer surgeries had now been cancelled.

"Regrettably, the Belfast Trust has made the difficult decision to cancel some cancer-related procedures which we are currently working to reschedule as soon as possible," it said.

"Covid-19 admissions continuing to rise has put increasing pressures on hospitals, which led to the trust taking the extremely difficult decision to cancel surgeries in order to expand our support teams caring for Covid-19 patients.

"We do not underestimate the anxiety and distress this causes patients and families affected and we sincerely apologise for this."

Three more deaths of patients who had previously tested positive for Covid-19 have been notified by the Department of Health.

A further 1,600 cases of the virus have been reported in Northern Ireland, the department said.

There were 244 Covid-19 positive patients in hospital, with 32 in intensive care.

In total, 2,224,108 vaccines have been administered.


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Elsewhere, the South Eastern Trust said one-time critical surgery had been cancelled today in response to the pressures facing the health service and the situation with other planned surgeries was being reviewed on a day-to-day basis.

Earlier this week the Belfast Trust announced that six extra ICU beds were being made available to cope with the increasing numbers of Covid-19 patients.

The beds are being put in place at Belfast City Hospital due to capacity issues at the Royal Victoria and Mater hospitals.

On Sunday evening both the Belfast Trust and the South Eastern Trust issued emergency appeals to off-duty staff to come in to work to help colleagues deal with the escalating situation.