A warning about the lifting of Covid restrictions has been issued by a Belfast woman after her surgery was cancelled less than 24 hours before it was due to take place.
The individual, who does not wish to be named, told Belfast Live she has been waiting three years for an elective procedure that could solve a chronic pain she has developed.
She told how she had been counting down the days to the operation, believing it would finally get her life back on track.
The woman was due to attend the City Hospital tomorrow, Wednesday, July 28, however she was contacted at 3pm today, July 27, by staff telling her the surgery had been cancelled due to Covid.
She said: “I have been waiting three years for this procedure to take place in the hope it would resolve an issue that has left me in chronic pain every day.
“But less than 24 hours before I was due to go into hospital, the surgery has been cancelled.
“I have practically been in isolation for the past 14 days prior to this in order to ensure that I wouldn’t come into contact with anyone with the virus so the surgery could go ahead, and received a negative test on Sunday.
“It feels like quite a kick in the teeth for this to be cancelled so suddenly.”
The woman added she “does not blame the NHS” and feels Stormont ministers have been too quick to relax some restrictions when here has been such a recent rise in cases.
She said: “In May we were told that there would be no more surgeries cancelled and yet a few months later that is exactly what is happening.
“I cannot understand how the Executive has decided to lift even more restrictions when this is taking place.
“It is not the NHS or hospital staff who are to blame for this, they have worked tirelessly for over a year under constant pressure, but they are getting no help from ministers who are rushing to make decisions.
“They shouldn’t be thinking of lifting any restrictions at a time when surgeries are being cancelled, adding even more pressure to the NHS down the line.”
Last week the Belfast Trust cancelled 96 operations and this week it has had to cancel further procedures.
A Belfast Health and Social Care Trust spokesperson said: “In recent days, Belfast Trust has seen a considerable increase in the number of patients admitted to our hospitals with Covid-19 and, subsequently, a rise in those admitted to ICU.
“Currently we are providing care for 100 patients with Covid-19 in addition to patients and service users who need our care and support for non-covid related reasons.
“This has placed a significant degree of pressure on our staff and we appreciate every effort they are making to continue to deliver the highest standard of care.
“We are predicting admission rates for Covid-19 to continue to increase for some days and have developed a number of contingencies to facilitate this additional demand on our resources.
“In addition to the cancellation of 96 non-time critical elective surgeries last week, we are considering further elective cancellations to provide additional staffing capacity. This is never a decision we take lightly and reflects the magnitude of the situation we are facing.
“In critical care, six beds are in the process of opening at Belfast City Hospital to provide care for critically ill Covid-19 patients. This will support our respiratory and critical care teams at the Mater Hospital and Royal Victoria Hospital.
“Covid-19 has fundamentally affected the work we do for the past 18 months and will continue to do so for some time. Every effort is being made to ensure a continuous high level of care can be delivered and whilst some difficult decisions will need to be made, our priority will remain to deliver safe, effective and compassionate care.”