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In preparation for a surge of COVID-19 cases, the Health & Social Care Board has negotiated agreements with independent sector hospitals so that they may treat some urgent non Covid-19 related cases, allowing Trust sites to further focus on treating patients who have contracted the virus. Initial focus is on urgent elective cancer patients being transferred over for care in independent sector sites.

DUP Health spokesperson, Pam Cameron MLA, welcomed the cooperation and thanked the HSC Board and independent health providers who have secured this partnership so far.

Speaking following the announcement, Pam Cameron said

"A partnership between our health service and independent private hospitals on a not-for-profit basis is a sensible sharing of resources, will relieve pressure and undoubtedly help save lives.

A number of independent sector healthcare providers have already come forward and others have indicated their willingness to join in partnership shortly. Using the independent sector for elective cancer patient care and other urgent non covid-19 related cases will allow our health service to concentrate on tackling this public health crisis.

Alongside the major delivery of PPE equipment to Northern Ireland, this announcement will be of great relief and reassurance to those working in our local Trusts who are already feeling pressure on services at this difficult time."