NHS pressure like ‘slow national major incident’, warns senior medic

John-Paul Loughrey said the numbers of people in queues outside hospitals is more than would be seen after a major incident.

NHS Scotland pressure like ‘slow national major incident’, warns senior medic STV News

Pressure on NHS Scotland is akin to a “slow national major incident across the country”, a leading medic has said.

John-Paul Loughrey, vice-president of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine in Scotland, said the numbers of patients in ambulance queues outside hospitals is larger than would be seen after an incident like a bus crash.

The NHS has come under severe pressure during the winter with accident and emergency waiting time performance hitting a record low in December.

Other medics have told how they have been forced to see patients outside the doors of the hospital building because of the intense demand.

In an interview with The Times, Dr Loughrey said other senior consultants have called for major incidents to be declared at their hospitals.

He said: “You may have ten, 20, 30 patients arrive after a bus crash. We now have more than that in ambulances queued outside emergency departments.

“The number of patients at risk is more than the numbers you would see in a conventional major incident.”

Ambulances have been so busy that sometimes every vehicle in a health board region has been tied up at hospitals, he said, meaning crews from neighbouring regions have to fill in.

Dr Loughrey said Scotland is now experiencing “a slow national major incident across the country”, adding: “This is much worse in emergency departments than any phase of the pandemic.

“We need recognition from the powers that be – political, Government and health board leaders – and staff have to be diverted in-house to attend to A&E.

“We have to address ambulance delays because of the risk that is being posed to the community.”

On Monday, the Scottish Conservatives said MSPs should be recalled to urgently discuss the situation in the NHS.

Conservative health spokesman Sandesh Gulhane said the “unprecedented crisis” within the health service is “by far the worst” he has seen during his career.

Dr Gulhane, who has been working as a GP over the festive break, said: “It’s no exaggeration to say Scotland’s NHS is on life support at the moment – and an emergency response is needed from Nicola Sturgeon.”

The Scottish Government has acknowledged the NHS is facing one of the most difficult winters in its 74-year history.

Covid-19, flu, and pandemic backlogs have combined to put increasing strain on the health service, it said.

A Government spokesman said earlier: “We also had to deal with rising cases of Strep A and other respiratory viruses which has resulted in significant demand on services.

“Delayed discharge continues to have a major impact in driving up accident and emergency waits, and we are working with health boards to ensure people leave hospital without delay, freeing up vital beds for those who need them most.”

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