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Assembly Written Question 1640/17-22

Question: To ask the Minister of Health for an update on the operation of the Nightingale facility at Whiteabbey Hospital.

Answer: I opened the first phase of the Whiteabbey Nightingale facility on 20 November 2020. This provides additional regional ‘step-down’ beds to help lift pressures across the system caused by COVID-19. The Whiteabbey facility is focused on patients who have recovered beyond the acute phase of infection, but still require intense rehabilitation. In light of the increased length of stay for COVID-19 patients, this facility is helping to aid the flow of patients from ICU and acute care and helping to release bed capacity at acute sites.

As of 16 February 2021, 111 patients from across all five Health and Social Care Trusts have been treated at the Whiteabbey Nightingale hospital.

The lessons learned from the first eight weeks of operation suggests that the model has been successful. This has been assessed by engaging with both patients and staff and by looking at measures such as patient outcomes, length of stay and staff absenteeism.

As pressures from the current wave of COVID-19 begin to ease, I have asked my officials to explore how best to utilise the Whiteabbey Nightingale to help with rebuilding HSC. I remain acutely aware, however, that the virus remains unpredictable, so the Whiteabbey Nightingale will retain the ability to refocus quickly back to COVID-19, should the need arise.

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