Healthcare staff ‘under pressure’ ahead of easing of restrictions

With several hospitals at capacity and more staff absent due to self-isolating healthcare workers are feeling the strain.

Health workers have said they are coming under increased pressure, are tired and are warning that mixed messages will cause further problems in the weeks to come.

A number of hospitals have said they are working at capacity and others are facing staff shortages. Scotland is due to move to level zero on July 19 – the same day that England ends its restrictions.

Hospitals have issued “code black statuses” warning they over capacity and elective operations have been cancelled amid staff shortages and rising numbers of coronavirus patients needing medical treatment.

In Dundee, the city’s Ninewells hospital has opened a new dedicated Covid ward.

An increase in those falling seriously ill, particularly among young adults, has lead health bosses to plead with those under 30 to get vaccinated and those working on the wards say they are exhausted.

“It is tiring and I think that’s important that people recognise that health care staff are part of society and are doing our best to help everyone but not superhuman,” said Doctor David Connell, NHS Tayside respiratory consultant.

Pressure now is not only down to an increase in Covid cases but other conditions too with more people using the health service than during previous peaks.

The tiredness medical staff are feeling is concerning to them, Dr Connell said, because they know there will be further pressures during winter.

He told STV News: “That’s why people getting vaccines and people following government guidelines is really helpful because if we can do that to reduce pressure across the whole health service allow us to really look after all of our patients, both Covid patients and non-Covid patients.”

Healthcare staff having to self-isolate and miss work is another problem putting strain on the system, with staff trying to cope with an increasing number of patients.

Dr Sigi Joseph, NHS Lothian, said: “It’s probably hard to pinpoint frustration for all of the team, accident emergency is on its knees, it’s super busy.

“I know several doctors who work in hospital and I know how hard they’re working, and lots of GPs I know how hard they’re all working as well.”

At GP practices they are seeing more people needing help after catching the virus and some fear when restrictions end in England later this month it may have an impact here.

Doctor Chris Williams, a GP in Grantown-on-Spey, said: “I do wonder that we’re reaching the point where there’s a mixture of messages coming across and that’s going to cause us some difficulties.

“We can’t simply drop all of our guard all at once, we need to go carefully and gently and progressively back towards our freedoms.”

Another 100 contact tracers have been recruited to help the system during the recent spike in cases – with latest figures estimating around one per cent of the Scottish population had Covid in the last week.

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