Covid: think twice before you go out socialising, urges GP

The numbers of people with COVID at present is as high as it has ever been, writes Dr Paul Molloy.

The vast majority of people are not unwell. However, due to the vast number of infections, there will still be a small percentage needing hospital.

I have learned that Altnagelvin Hospital is under unusual pressure. Its emergency department is gridlocked with 30 or more patients waiting for hospital beds. There isn’t a bed to be had. The main issue is that, if you arrive at ED, there is nowhere to see you.

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Across the Trust and GP practices, there is between one third and half of staff either off with COVID or isolating. It is likely that these figures will increase or stay the same for the next 4-6 weeks.

This means that only the emergency medical and surgical problems can be dealt with. All non emergency surgery and clinics are likely to be cancelled due to lack of staff.

Over the next few weeks, we will all need to be very patient with our health services while they attempt to operate with a diminished and disrupted workforce. I appreciate many services have been stretched and it might get worse before it gets better. Thank you for your understanding.

There has never been a more important time to wear your mask, wash your hands and avoid spreading the illness. For the next 4 weeks, I’d suggest that, irrespective of the rules or what you are allowed to do, you really think about it before you go out socialising or mixing. I apologise to the businesses out there but the situation in the NHS at present is as much due to staff absence as volume of disease.

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The vaccination campaign continues and the reminder is that the vast majority of those ill or dying at present with COVID are unvaccinated. Please get vaccinated.

* Dr Paul Molloy is a general practitioner working in Derry.