NHS Lanarkshire has confirmed that its hospitals are “no longer at the highest level of risk” after seven months of “critical occupancy levels”.
Following a risk assessment, senior leaders at the health board lowered the level of risk from black to red on Wednesday.
NHS Lanarkshire has been at the highest level of risk since October 2021, due to “relentless pressures” of the pandemic on Hairmyres, Monklands and Wishaw.
At the end of August 2021, the board was forced to temporarily postpone the majority of non-urgent planned care procedures, including some cancer procedures due to space and staff shortages.
Heather Knox, NHS Lanarkshire chief executive, said: “While we are stepping down the level of risk from black to red, it is important to stress that red is still not an ideal situation and that our services and staff are still extremely busy.
“For the first time in many months, the picture is looking a little brighter. There are fewer people with Covid-19 in our hospitals, the level of staff sickness is lower and we are starting to see an improvement in our ability to discharge patients. All of this has improved flow throughout our acute hospitals.
“This is thanks to the hard work of all health and social care staff and to the public who continue to stick with the Covid-19 safety measures.”
She added: “The availability of hospital beds and staff to meet the levels of demand are key factors in assessing our risk level. We are at a crucial point and, as always, the safety of our patients and staff is our top priority. Protecting them from catching Covid-19 will help to continue to reduce pressures on our hospitals.
“We appreciate that the rules on wearing face coverings are no longer a legal requirement across Scotland. For the benefit of our patients and staff, we would ask the public to continue to support us by wearing face coverings when attending GPs, hospitals or any other health care settings for the foreseeable future.
“By helping us you are helping patients, service users and staff and for this we are extremely grateful.”
The levels of risk used in the health service in Scotland correspond to colours, i.e., ‘black’ equates to immediate and tangible impact on services; ‘red’ requires significant intervention; ‘amber’ indicates moderate impact on services; ‘green’ means services are functioning more or less as usual.