M&S to close more stores after plunging to £201m loss

High street retailer targets an additional 30 stores for closure after being hit hard by coronavirus lockdowns.

Marks & Spencer is targeting 30 more stores for closure. Hollie Adams / Stringer via Getty Images
Marks & Spencer is targeting 30 more stores for closure.

Marks & Spencer is set to close more stores after plunging to a hefty loss for the past year after being hit hard by high street lockdowns.

The retailer said it is targeting 30 more closures in the “next phase” of its long-term transformation plan.

It has already closed or relocated 59 stores but said it is accelerating changes to its portfolio of shops following the impact of the pandemic.

The 30 planned closures will be part of a shake-up of around 110 stores, with the majority of these sites set for relocation.


M&S said the impact of the pandemic has provided it with a strong opportunity to purchase new locations, with the group currently targeting six new stores in former Debenhams units.

The group current has 254 full-line stores, which sell food and clothing, but it plans to reduce this to around 180 over the next ten years, with some of these being replaced by food-only or purely clothing and home sites.

The update came as M&S tumbled to a £201.2m pre-tax loss for the year to March 27 after its clothing and home business was particularly hammered by pandemic restrictions

It follows a £67.2m statutory profit in the previous year.


The group told shareholders that total revenues dropped after this slump offset an improvement in its food operations.

It reported that food like-for-like revenues increased by 1.3% over the past year but the company saw its clothing and home business report a 31.5% slump despite 53.9% online growth.

Clothing and home operations saw a £129.4m operating loss, although M&S said the performance improved in the second half of the year.

These sales have also returned to growth since the reopening of all stores on April 12, M&S said.

Meanwhile, the company said it was buoyed by its food business, which saw 6.9% growth excluding its hospitality and franchise arms.

It also hailed a strong integration with Ocado after the two companies launched their online grocery joint venture last September.

The retailer said its balance sheet is also “stronger than expected” following the impact of the pandemic.


Steve Rowe, chief executive at Marks & Spencer, said: “In a year like no other we have delivered a resilient trading performance, thanks in no small part to the extraordinary efforts of our colleagues.

“In addition, by going further and faster in our transformation through the Never The Same Again programme, we moved beyond fixing the basics to forge a reshaped M&S.

“With the right team in place to accelerate change in the trading businesses and build a trajectory for future growth, we now have a clear line of sight on the path to make M&S special again.

“The transformation has moved to the next phase.”

The group also said it expects to be hit by between £42m and £47m in Brexit costs for the current year, particularly affecting its business in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.

Where can I go as Glasgow roads start closing for COP26?

Everything you need to know about travelling around Glasgow during the UN climate conference.

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Parts of Glasgow will start locking down on Saturday ahead of the COP26 United Nations climate conference.

The summit is being held at the Scottish Event Campus on the banks of the River Clyde from October 31 to November 12.

But residents and commuters are being warned to expect delays across the city from this weekend.

So, where are you allowed to go as COP26 takes over Glasgow?

Road closures


The scale of the event in Glasgow is unprecedented and the council has warned people that roads will be “extremely busy”.

The city’s motorway network – including the M8, M77 and M74 – are all at risk of major congestion.

And the Clydeside Expressway, which normally sees around 100,000 vehicles each day, will be closed between Partick and Anderston from October 23 to November 15.

Official alternative routes involve drivers using some of the busiest roads in the city by going through the Clyde Tunnel, parallel to the Expressway on Dumbarton Road and Argyle Street, or Great Western Road, through Charing Cross.


Stobcross Road, which runs between the Expressway and the SEC, has already been closed due to works, and will not open again until November 21.

Get Ready Glasgow via GCC
Red shows areas at risk of congestion with roads expected to be significantly busier than usual on the first day of the conference.

Pressure is expected to be diverted on to the A739 Clyde Tunnel, which runs north to south under the river, as well as Paisley Road West, Great Western Road and Dumbarton Road.

The disruption from COP26 comes on top of traffic chaos already being caused by the ongoing repairs to the M8 Woodside Viaduct north of the city centre.

Get Ready Glasgow via Glasgow City Council
Alternate routes for the COP26 road closures from October 23 until November 15.

COP26 road closures in full

  • Congress Road, closed from 6am, October 10, until 6am, November 17.
  • Congress Way, Finnieston Quay, Tunnel Street, Stobcross Road (section parallel to A814) and Castlebank Street, subject to lane restrictions and closures between October 17 and 23, with full closure from 9pm on October 24 until 6am on November 21.
  • Clyde Arc (Squinty Bridge) and Lancefield Quay, closed from 9pm on October 23 until 6am on November 15. The roads will be open to service buses only.
  • Finnieston Street, from Houldsworth Street to Lancefield Quay, closed from 9pm on October 24 until 6am on November 15. Local Access southbound will be maintained until October 28.
  • Clydeside Expressway, from Partick Interchange to Anderston (Junction 19), closed from 9pm on October 23, until 6am on November 15.
  • Minerva Street and West Greenhill Place, closed from 6am on October 28, until 6am on November 13, with local access to private carparks maintained.
Get Ready Glasgow via GCC
COP26 Road Closures: SEC and Finnieston
Get Ready Glasgow via GCC
COP26 Road Closures: Partick and Transport Museum
Get Ready Glasgow via GCC
COP26 Road Closures: Anderston and M8

Can I still ride my bike?

Cycling is encouraged during the summit, but pedestrian and cycle routes around the SEC will be affected, with campaigners arguing that the closures go against the ethos of the conference.

Glasgow City Council has suspended public access around the venue – the site covering Finnieston and Pacific Quay, Millennium and Bells bridges and a number of paths will be out of bounds from October 21 to November 19.

Access will banned from the following routes:

  • C93E (Millennium Bridge)
  • C93F (Bells Bridge)
  • Part of C93 (Clyde Walkway (North) between Beith Way and Finnieston Street)
  • Part of C93A (between Finnieston Quay and Minerva Street)
  • C93C (between the Riverside Museum and Stobcross Road)
  • Part of C109 (Clyde Walkway (South) at Pacific Quay)
  • Part of C54A (Expressway Overbridge at Anderston)
  • Part of C54B (M8 Overbridge at Anderston)
  • River Kelvin ‘Core Path on Water’ at Kelvin Harbour

Will public transport be running?

The conference will be disrupted by rail strikes after members of the RMT union backed industrial action.


ScotRail workers will strike from November 1 to 12 amid a dispute over pay and conditions.

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RMT members on the Caledonian Sleeper service, which is run by Serco, will also strike from October 31 to November 2 and from November 11 to 13.

Sunday train services in Scotland have been crippled for months as workers protest over pay and conditions.

Are tourist attractions open?

Glasgow Life, which runs the city’s culture and leisure venues, is closing six sites to “minimise disruption” during COP26.

Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, the Riverside Transport Museum and the Gallery of Modern Art will be closed throughout the conference.

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Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum

Kelvin Hall will also be closed from October 28 to November 1 and Kelvingrove Lawn Bowls and Tennis Centre will also be shut from October 31 to November 2.

Climate changes ‘could halt production of Scottish whisky by 2080’

A report suggests Scotland will face more intense droughts over a longer period of time by the 2080s.

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Researchers claim whisky distilleries use around 61 billion litres of water annually.

Temperature changes could limit whisky production at some of Scotland’s distilleries in the next 60 years, a report has indicated.

Climate researchers from University College London (UCL) found impending heat and drought stress caused by global warming could drastically impact the three ingredients needed to make a dram in Scotland, water, barley and yeast.

The report, commissioned by Glengoyne Highland Single Malt Scotch Whisky, suggested Scotland will face more intense droughts over a longer period of time by the 2080s.

This will lead to a reduced and intermittent water supply in areas of the country which will force some distilleries to “decrease or halt production” as they are “heavily reliant on a continuous water supply”.


Researchers claim whisky distilleries use around 61 billion litres of water annually in which a single litre of whisky requires 46.9 litres of water.

The report draws on evidence from drought conditions during summer of 2018 when five of Islay’s 10 distilleries and the Blair Atholl and Edradour distilleries in Perthshire were forced to halt production.

In the same year, Glenfarclas in Speyside reported an entire month’s loss of production, amounting to 300,000 litres of whisky, due to the hot weather conditions.

Although the report found barley is viewed as a relatively drought-tolerant crop, the negative consequences of warmer weather on the grain variety were also witnessed over the last decade.


Researchers said the 2018 heatwave resulted in a 7.9% decline in UK spring barley production which increased the crops value to £179 per tonne from £145 per tonne in the previous year.

As Scotch whisky production requires around 800,000 tonnes of spring barley per year, a price increase of this magnitude would add costs of around £27m for the industry, they claimed.

The report did however suggest a temperature increase could lead to a resurgence in the use of maize by distilleries, once “an integral ingredient in grain Scotch whisky”.

But the warmer summers and mild winters are also said to increase populations of invasive species, pests, and diseases.

Carole Roberts, lead author and climate change researcher at UCL, said: “There’s an assumption that Scotland is wet, rainy place with a constant water supply.

“Climate change is changing when and where it rains, and this will create shortages and change the character of the water, affecting our favourite drams, so planning is essential to protect our whisky.”

The report said the flavour of Scotland’s whisky could also be heavily impacted by 2080 due to changes in climate.


Stages of its production, including malting, fermentation, when the yeast is added, distillation, and maturation, have all been developed to suit the temperate maritime climate of the area.

But warmer air and water temperatures, the report found, would all have the potential to lead to inefficient cooling in traditional distilleries, creating challenges for conserving the character, consistency, and quality of the liquid.

Barbara Turing, brand manager at Glengoyne, said: “The threat of climate change is very real, and we all have a role to play in combating its effects.

“At Glengoyne, we still have so much more to do but we are committed to reducing our own impact on the environment and working with the Scotch Whisky Association to achieve their net zero emission target by 2040.”

In time with the release of the report, the distillery announced the launch of its Wetlands Single Cask to represent its ongoing relationship with the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust (WWT) since 2011.

The distillery adopted a wetlands facility for its liquid waste, with a percentage of profits going directly to continue the climate emergency work being done by the conservation charity.

Turing added: “Our partnership with the WWT has been at the heart of our sustainability work and we want to continue to support the valuable work they do.”

Professor Mark Maslin, climate change professor at UCL who worked on the report, said: “The work Glengoyne is doing to reduce their carbon emissions and protect whisky production from climate change is essential.

“But the whisky industry is just one fish in a big pond, and we need government support, investment, and infrastructure for all of us to be net zero emissions as soon as possible.”

Car dependency ‘reaches 15-year high despite drop in commuting’

More than four out of five respondents to an annual RAC poll of motorists said they would struggle without access to a car.

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Drivers in rural areas are more likely to be car-dependant (87%) than town and city dwellers (77%).

Reliance on cars has reached a 15-year high despite a drop in commuting, according to a new survey.

More than four out of five (82%) respondents to an annual RAC poll of motorists said they would struggle without access to a car.

That is up from 79% last year and 74% in 2019, and is the highest level since 2006.

When it comes to visiting friends and relatives, 68% of those who rely on car said the distance they have to travel is too far to walk or cycle.


Some 57% said the car is quicker than other options, and 53% said there are no feasible public transport services.

Drivers in rural areas are more likely to be car-dependant (87%) than town and city dwellers (77%).

The survey of 2652 UK motorists also suggested that the five-day-a-week commute will not return for most people.

Just 32% of respondents said they will drive to a workplace every working day in the future, compared with 49% before the virus crisis.


The average expected number of commuting days was three.

Meanwhile, drivers’ negative attitudes towards public transport appear to be hardening.

Fewer than half (46%) said they would use their car less even if train and bus services improved, down from 59% three years ago.

Some 45% said they expect to travel by public transport less in future as a direct result of the pandemic.

RAC data insight spokesman, Rod Dennis, said: “Many drivers clearly expect that hybrid working will become the norm, which could have a profound effect on the overall volume of vehicles on the roads during the week.

“It’s also clear just how important the car is to so many people, a relationship that appears to have strengthened due to Covid-19.

“A greater proportion of drivers than ever say they’d find it hard to live without one.


“In so many cases, the car is faster, more reliable and is really the only feasible option for the sorts of distances people travel, whether that’s to the local supermarket a few miles away or to see friends and family on the other side of the country.

“If the challenge faced by policymakers in getting drivers out of their cars before the pandemic was akin to trekking up a steep hill, our research suggests they now have a veritable mountain to climb.”

Petrol prices closing in on record high, analysis shows

The highest price recorded is 142.48p in April 2012.

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Average diesel prices on Thursday were 145.68p.

Petrol prices are being artificially inflated to a near-record high, according to new analysis.

Increases in the wholesale cost of diesel is being “loaded onto petrol”, the AA said.

Figures from Experian Catalyst show average petrol pump prices moved within a fraction of 1p of the record on Thursday, reaching 142.16p per litre.

The highest price recorded is 142.48p in April 2012.


Average diesel prices on Thursday were 145.68p.

The AA said wholesale price increases since the summer should have resulted in diesel setting new records, with petrol still around 2.5p off its all-time high.

The motoring organisation’s fuel spokesman Luke Bosdet said: “The AA recognises that there is probably still turmoil in the fuel trade after the panic buying, and that may well have disrupted diesel contracts.

“It also understands that it is basic commerce for a retailer to load more profit on to some items than others.


“But for the petrol retailers to state that the rise in petrol prices, and likely a new record, is completely down to circumstances beyond their control just doesn’t ring true and has to be challenged.”

On Wednesday, the Petrol Retailers Association said fuel price records are “almost certain to be eclipsed” before the end of next week.

It insisted the “primary reason” for that happening is the “rise and rise of crude oil costs”, which have increased by more than 50% since January.

Truss: We must not become strategically dependent on China

The foreign secretary said she wants to build 'a network of liberty around the world with like-minded partners'.

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Shanghai: Liz Truss has said she wants to build 'a network of liberty around the world with like-minded partners'.

Liz Truss has said she wants to build “a network of liberty around the world with like-minded partners” as she warned against the UK becoming “strategically dependent” on China.

In an interview with The Daily Telegraph, the foreign secretary said that China was an important trading partner for the UK.

But she said it was important not to become reliant.

Truss, who was promoted in the reshuffle last month and has been on a trip to India in recent days, was asked about the involvement of China’s state-owned energy company CGN in Sizewell C, and she said: “I’d go back to the broader comments I’ve made about diversifying supply.”


CGN is part of a consortium behind the planned new nuclear plant in Suffolk.

Truss said: “I think it’s very important that we don’t become strategically dependent and I think it’s important that we make sure that we’re working, particularly in areas of critical national infrastructure, with reliable partners.”

She added: “We are making sure, in all of our policy positions, that we are able to work with like-minded partners on key strategic areas.”

Truss also appeared to suggest to the Telegraph that the UK could not be dependent on China for 5G networks.


It follows the fiasco of the rollout of 5G in the UK, which saw Chinese firm Huawei ultimately excluded from the process on security grounds, leaving the country reliant on only two equipment vendors while causing a likely delay to the full installation of 5G networks.

She said: “It is very important that we don’t become strategically dependent on high-risk vendors in this space.

“There are other areas like quantum, artificial intelligence, cyber security where we need to make sure the partners we’re innovating with are reliable and there is a bond of trust there.”

Public asked for views over plans for new primary school

Glasgow City Council is planning to open a school for children living in Laurieston, the Gorbals and the city centre.

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The proposals aim to ease pressure on current schools as the number of homes in the area increases.

A public consultation will be held on plans for a new primary school in the southside of Glasgow.

Glasgow City Council is planning to open a school for children living in Laurieston, the Gorbals and the city centre to ease pressure on current schools as the number of homes in the area increases.

The preferred option would see the council develop the site of the former Adelphi Terrace Secondary School.

Glasgow councillors have now agreed to progress to consultation, which will include public meetings, from November 1.


Cllr Chris Cunningham, city convener for education, skills and early years, said: “There are two key drivers for these proposals, the first is the growth of new housing and population in the Gorbals/Laurieston area, with a consequent increase in pressure on the local schools.

“The second is the current and projected growth in the residential population in the city centre, currently sitting at around 20,000 but projected to reach 40,000 by 2035.

“We require to provide additional capacity for the children who will form part of this expanded city centre community.”

Up to 900 new homes are being built in Laurieston and a council report stated the redevelopment has “put pressure on the social infrastructure”.


Council officers’ preferred option is to repurpose the Adelphi Centre, at 12 Commercial Road. The other option considered involved using an old school building at 5 Florence Street, which is not currently owned by the council.

The Commercial Road option would see an existing two-storey building, owned by the council, refurbished, providing 14 teaching spaces, a dining hall, drama room and music/dance rehearsal space.

There would also be a media library, sensory room and kitchen, but there is not space for a games hall. Officers have suggested the school could use the council-owned Gorbals Leisure Centre, which has a swimming pool, health and fitness suite, games hall and tennis courts.

There would be a playground at the new school, with plans to use an existing car park. 

Bailie Soryia Siddique, a Labour councillor for Southside Central, said: “Consultation for the creation of a new primary school on the southside is a positive development. 

“Welcomed new housing in Laurieston is likely to increase the need for schooling spaces. There is also an opportunity to include a climate science/STEM education lab space within the school. 

“This could be an opportunity for Glasgow to lead the way in climate science education. I look forward to the consultation outcome.”


Public meetings, as part of the consultation process, will be held at Blackfriars Primary at 7pm on November 9 and at Bellahouston Academy on November 17 at 7pm. The consultation period will run until January 5.

The new school would be added to the catchment area for Bellahouston Academy.

By local democracy reporter Drew Sandelands

Glasgow hospital lights up pink to raise awareness of breast cancer

The Queen Elizabeth University Hospital shone bright on Thursday night ahead of Wear it Pink Day on Friday.

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Glasgow: The Queen Elizabeth University Hospital lit up for Wear it Pink Day.

Glasgow’s Queen Elizabeth University Hospital lit up pink to help raise awareness of breast cancer.

The building shone bright on Thursday night ahead of Wear it Pink Day on Friday.

Taking place during Breast Cancer Awareness Month, thousands of fundraisers wear pink within their communities, schools or workplaces for Breast Cancer Now.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the day, and to date the charity has raised more than £36m.


Bosses at NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde hope the gesture at the QEUH will help raise funds to contribute to the research and treatment of breast cancer.

Frances McLinden, director for the south sector at the health board, said: “Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women in Scotland, accounting for more than 28% of all cancers diagnosed, excluding non-melanoma skin cancer.

“The teams across NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde work tirelessly to care and treat patients with cancer every day.

“While high success is already evident in treating cancer with death rates falling since the early 1990s, there remains an ongoing challenge in finding new cures and treatments.


“We hope that the small gesture of lighting up the QEUH makes people stop for a minute and think about all the patients and staff caring for patients and shines a light with those across the globe recognising Breast Cancer Awareness Month.”

Man accused of murdering mum Louise Tiffney found dead in Spain

Sean Flynn was due to go on trial over the death of his mother who disappeared in 2002.

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Ms Tiffney’s remains were found in a shallow grave, near a stately home in Longniddry, East Lothian in 2017.

A man accused of murdering his mother has been found dead in Spain, his lawyer has announced.

Sean Flynn was due to go on trial over the death of Louise Tiffney, who disappeared from her home on Dean Path in Edinburgh in May 2002.

The 38-year-old’s address was given as Berlin, Germany, in court documents and a warrant was issued for his arrest after he failed to turn up at Livingston High Court on Tuesday.

Sean Flynn leaving the High Court in Edinburgh with his mother Louise Tiffney in 2002.

On Friday, Flynn’s solicitor Aamer Anwar said: “I can confirm that this morning, we were advised that Sean Flynn, aged 37, who failed to appear for trial for the murder of his mother, Louise Tiffney 19 years ago, was according to the police found dead in Spain, after taking his own life.”


In 2005, the then 21-year-old was prosecuted for his mother’s murder but acquitted at Perth High Court.

Mr Anwar said Flynn had maintained his innocence throughout the 22-day trial and claimed his mother had walked out after a row.

In April 2017, Ms Tiffney’s remains were found in a shallow grave, near a stately home in Longniddry, East Lothian and a new prosecution was brought by the Crown under double jeopardy legislation – allowing for an individual to be tried again for the same crime.

Louise Tiffney’s remains were discovered in 2017.

Flynn had been charged with murdering Ms Tiffney and of attempting to defeat the ends of justice by concealing her body in the boot of a car, driving it into a wooded area and disposing of it there before cleaning the vehicle.


At a previous hearing in January, his lawyer said Flynn denied the charges.

Mr Anwar said: “Any loss of life is a tragedy, Sean Flynn’s next of kin has been informed and there will be no further comment.“

A Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) spokesperson said: “COPFS are aware of the reports concerning the death of Sean Flynn and are awaiting official confirmation from the Spanish authorities.”

A Police Scotland spokesperson said: “We were notified by Spanish police on Thursday, 21 October, about the death of a 38-year-old man in the Alicante region.

“Formal identification is still to be carried out however the family of Sean Flynn have been informed.

“We will continue to work with the Spanish police to establish the full circumstances but at this time, the death is not believed to be suspicious.”

STV News
Paul Ross and Christopher Magee, who were both 17-years-old, were killed in the crash on January 14, 2001.

Flynn was jailed in June 2002 after admitting to causing the deaths of two friends in a car crash.


His cousin Paul Ross and Christopher Magee, who were both 17-years-old, were killed and another friend, Mario Gaglardini, was injured in the incident in Mid Calder on January 14, 2001.

Ms Tiffney disappeared on May 27, 2002, four days before her son admitted the charge.

It was three years later that he stood trial accused of killing his mother.

STV News
Flynn was jailed in June 2002 after admitting to causing the deaths of two friends in a car crash.

Red to black: Struggling NHS board moves to highest risk level

NHS Lanarkshire is facing 'relentless 'pressures as Hairmyres, Monklands and Wishaw are all at maximum capacity.

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NHS Lanarkshire has confirmed it is at the highest risk level (black) due to “critical occupancy levels”.

The struggling health board is facing “relentless” pressures, bed shortages and staff shortages due to sickness, stress and self-isolation and Hairmyres, Monklands and Wishaw are all at maximum capacity.

The military was drafted earlier this week to help under-pressure staff due to a rise in Covid-19 admissions and a backlog in care.

As a result, the board received three nurses, 45 military medics, 12 general duties troops and three drivers to assist.


The health board has also stood down elective procedures including some cancer procedures due to the current pressures.

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The military was called in to assist NHS Lanarkshire earlier this week. MOD Crown copyright.

Laura Ace, strategic commander and deputy chief executive, said: “NHS Lanarkshire is currently at critical occupancy levels across its three acute hospitals.

“The sustained pressure continues across our three acute hospitals and is showing no signs of easing. 

“We are facing relentless pressures, bed shortages and staff shortages due to sickness, stress and self-isolation and University hospitals Hairmyres, Monklands and Wishaw are all at maximum capacity


“The safety of our patients and staff is our top priority and we are working through short and medium term actions to increase staffing and also improve the flow of patients out of hospital. The military are providing additional support within our hospitals.

“We took the decision at the end of August to temporarily postpone the majority of non-urgent planned care procedures and, unfortunately, the current pressures mean we are having to further stand down elective (planned) procedures including some cancer procedures, which we will reschedule as soon as possible.

“The current situation is unprecedented and marks a different level of risk for NHS Lanarkshire as a whole and moves our current status to the highest level of risk.”

She continued: “We issued a message on social media this week warning patients to expect long waits at A&E as they are overwhelmed by the number patients attending and needing admitted.

“This means patients are having to wait much longer to be seen that we would like, and well in excess of our target of four hours. A high number of these patients need to be admitted which is causing severe pressures throughout our hospitals.

“To help free up hospital beds, we have also asked for any assistance from family members to allow us to discharge people home or to interim care placements as soon as possible.

“We know the impact of the current pressures are being felt right across the health and social care system, including GP practices which remain extremely busy.


“We recognise that our staff are doing everything they can and showing the highest levels of professionalism, commitment and resilience.  We hope that the current actions being taken will help reduce the pressures on our staff and services in the coming days.”

Last month soldiers throughout the country started supporting the Scottish Ambulance Service amid growing NHS pressures.

More than 200 army personnel were deployed to assist the service by driving ambulances and operating mobile coronavirus testing units.

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