NHS workers are “preparing for the worst” ahead of a difficult winter of staff shortages.
Amid the rapid spread of new Covid variant Omicron, staff at Ninewells hospital in Dundee feel “challenged” by the uncertainty of the strain.
While Covid booster schemes have been accelerated and restrictions are expected to be tightened on Tuesday by the First Minister, staff are “assuming the worst” over the coming weeks.
Andy Reddick, consultant in emergency medicine at Ninewells Hospital, told STV News: “The way we plan for the winter is we assume the worst and we put lots of things in place to mitigate that.
“Some of the challenges are catching up still on pandemic patients who have had their treatment delayed because of Covid restrictions, but also the uncertainty of what’s going to happen.”
Dr Reddick added that staffing levels have been affected by people being forced to self isolate due to contact with a positive case.
“It’s hard to plan when you haven’t got the same coverage of staff that you would have had because staff are having to self isolate.
“It used to be predominantly minor illnesses, you wouldnt come in if you were unfit but now you’re not allowed to come in at certain times, having to care for children who aren’t allowed to go to school who might be well enough, just in order to keep everyone safe.
“So, the big challenges are uncertainty, and the staffing issue is a huge problem because we just don’t know when someone is going to be told they’ve had a contact with a positive.
“It makes it tricky to plan more than a few days ahead and even a few days is a long time at the moment.”
Dr Reddick added that while staff are tired and “morale is low”, they will “rise to the occasion” this winter.
“We will do what we have to do but we don’t know the exact pressures the system is going to face,” he said.