NORTHERN IRELAND'S hospitals are struggling to treat patients as they have hit full capacity.
With Northern Ireland still experiencing a high volume of Covid-19 cases, deaths and hospitalisations, the region is struggling with the sheer number of people in need of treatment.
Hospitals across Northern Ireland are at an average of 104% capacity, The Journal reports.
Ambulances have been queuing up outside hospitals, with patients having to wait to get inside the building, and in the Antrim Area Hospital, 17 ambulances holding patients were forced to queue outside the Emergency Department.
Every picture tells a story - Antrim Area Hospital and patients waiting inside ambulances some are being treated by doctors. Yesterday one patient waited 10 hours. @BBCNewsNI pic.twitter.com/E0UnK2CNWB
— Marie-Louise Connolly - Look Forward. #FightBack (@mlchealth) December 15, 2020
In the case of the Antrim Area Hospital, doctors were treating patients inside the ambulances, in the car park of the hospital.
Northern Trust Medical Director Wendy Magowan said they had "never seen anything like this before" and admitted "we are treating patients in the car park".
The north recorded a further 486 cases of Covid-19 and six further deaths yesterday, but the United Kingdom still plans to relax restrictions to allow families to visit and people to travel over Christmas.
These are the current scenes at Antrim Area Hospital where staff are treating patients in the car park as demand for services grows. Over 16 ambulances now in the car park. 📸 @PacemakerPress - https://t.co/3CVjLxmyhR pic.twitter.com/N1I3K7XjVX
— Kevin Scott (@Kscott_94) December 15, 2020
The region's Chief Medical Officer, Dr Michael McBride, said the idea of relaxing restrictions further when the north is still facing high cases is "extremely troubling".
"We are not where we nee to be or should be in terms of the transmission of the virus," he said, adding that citizens must play their part to keep transmission low over the festive period.
Stormont ministers will meet tomorrow to discuss the relaxation of restrictions over Christmas, The Journal reports, and Minister for Health Robin Swann is expected to suggest new restrictions to slow the spread of the virus.