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Isle of Man: Off-island contingency in place for urgent medical care

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image captionManx people needing urgent medical care are often treated at North West hospitals

Contingency plans are in place to ensure Manx people can receive emergency specialist medical care if hospitals in north-west England reach capacity, the health minister said.

NHS Nightingale hospitals in northern England were asked last week to prepare as Covid-19 admissions rise.

David Ashford told Tynwald "a wider off-island hospital network" could be used if North West wards were full.

The island's intensive care capacity could be doubled if needed, he added.

Noble's hospital increased the size its intensive care unit during the coronavirus outbreak on the island by cancelling many procedures, but it has since been reduced as treatments have resumed after "local elimination" was declared in June.

Patients needing emergency medical treatment that cannot be done on the Isle of Man are transferred to the UK, predominantly to the North West, using the air ambulance, a specially equipped plane.

Mr Ashford said the demand was "relatively low" at this time and just five people had been transferred for treatment in an intensive care unit so far this year.

Should it be needed, the air ambulance had the "ability to transfer patients to any part of the United Kingdom", he added.

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