MSPs have blasted an “absolutely damning” report which raised serious safety concerns for patients at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh.
Inspectors observed “distressed” patients on trolleys without blankets to cover them and discovered a number of fire safety risks as a result of “overcrowding” in the hospital’s emergency department – which was found to have been operating at up to 300% over capacity.
Examples of patients lying of “urine-soaked sheets” and “bloodstained pillows” were among the instances observed by inspectors from Healthcare Improvement Scotland during the unannounced inspections in February this year.
NHS Lothian have “sincerely apologised” and say a major improvement plan is now in place.
Opposition parties at Holyrood have called for the Scottish Government to take “serious action” and to “closely monitor” the measures put in place to address the issues.
Sue Webber of the Scottish Conservatives, who is the MSP for Lothians, said: “This report is deeply alarming. The findings of the inspection clearly highlight that – despite the best efforts of frontline staff – services are completely overwhelmed in NHS Lothian.
“It is time for SNP ministers to ensure NHS Lothian is fairly funded, to ensure that the demands of the growing patient population is met.”
She added: “The pressures facing our hospitals is a direct result of successive SNP health secretaries’ dire workforce planning and the failure of Humza Yousaf’s flimsy NHS Recovery plan
“Patients standard of care is suffering as a result which is unacceptable.
“The escalation measures introduced as a result of this inspection must be closely monitored by Michael Matheson who must guarantee every resource will be given to ease the pressure on NHS Lothian.”
Scottish Labour health spokesperson Jackie Baillie said: “This report is absolutely damning, but it is no surprise.
“After 16 years of SNP incompetence, our NHS is in crisis. Patients are being treated in unsafe conditions, with total disregard for their dignity and respect, whilst hardworking NHS staff – who are at the end of their tether – are crying out for help from the Scottish Government.
“Michael Matheson must take serious action to restore faith in our NHS and end this crisis once and for all.”
In response to the report, Alison Macdonald, nurse director at NHS Lothian issued an apology.
She said: “We accept and acknowledge the findings of the HIS report and we sincerely apologise to patients for longer than usual waiting times in the ED and a poorer experience of care.
“We had already begun our own improvement work when the inspectors carried out their first visit. When they returned for their follow up, it was clear to see that improvements had already been made, but more was required.”
The statement added: “We recognise too that there is much work to be done. Safety and wellbeing of patients and staff are our main priorities, and I want to reassure them that we are doing everything possible to improve.
“We value and respect all of our teams and the hard work and dedication they bring. We are introducing new ways of working and reforming services to help better support our staff in their roles delivering patient care every day.
“There has been unprecedented pressure on our healthcare systems, which has been relentless in recent times, as the inspection team was able to experience first-hand.
“Occupancy of the hospital was over 100% when the inspection team visited, which has been a common experience in recent months. We are now focussed on our improvement and safety action plans.”
A Scottish Government spokesperson said patient safety was “paramount,” blaming the issues noted in the report on “unprecedented pressures”.
They added: “NHS Lothian has set out an action plan to address the concerns identified and they will be supported to achieve and sustain improvements. We expect the leadership of NHS Lothian to ensure the action plan is fully implemented as soon as possible.
“HIS has advised the Scottish Government that NHS Lothian has been co-operative in this process and are already working on improvements.
“Our hard-working NHS is clearly still facing unprecedented pressures and HIS have taken this into account when they conducted this inspection. Scottish Government considers any patient safety issues identified by Healthcare Improvement Scotland to be of the utmost seriousness.”