Council staff lend a hand on hospital wards amid ‘exceptional’ demand

Workers from North and South Lanarkshire councils will support staff at three acute hospitals.

Council staff lend a hand on hospital wards amid ‘exceptional’ demand iStock
Hospital: Workers from North and South Lanarkshire councils will support staff at three acute hospitals.

Council staff have been lending a hand on hospital wards as NHS Lanarkshire faces “exceptional” demand.

The health board said workers from North and South Lanarkshire councils will support staff at three acute hospitals which are under strain due to winter pressures, continued Omicron cases, and workforce shortages caused by absences.

The council workers will help with tasks such as supporting the movement of patients and general housekeeping duties.

Ten staff from South Lanarkshire Council have completed training and have been mobilised to University Hospital Wishaw and University Hospital Hairmyres.

A further 12 staff from North Lanarkshire Council will be deployed to University Hospital Monklands and University Hospital Wishaw next week.

A number of staff from the councils, third-sector partners and volunteers have also been supporting Covid-19 testing and vaccination as well as providing health and social care support.

Heather Knox, NHS Lanarkshire chief executive, said: “Our services across the whole system are experiencing more pressure than at any other point and the present demand on our hospitals is exceptional.

“The Omicron variant continues to have a negative impact on many of our health services and we continue to face staffing challenges across health services.

“We are delighted to welcome the support of council colleagues over the next month to help ensure our services can deliver effective patient care.

“We really appreciate their assistance as this time and I would also like to take this opportunity to thank our staff for their continuing hard work and dedication over this particularly busy time.”

NHS Lanarkshire has been at the highest risk level, classed as “black”, since last October amid continuing pressures.

Des Murray, chief executive of North Lanarkshire Council, said: “It’s clear that Covid-19 has placed enormous pressure on some of our most crucial services such as health and social care, as well as acute services at NHS Lanarkshire, which is enhancing its patient capacity at hospitals.

“Our staff have shown remarkable resilience throughout the pandemic to support other council services when needed and that willingness has already been extended to our partners over the last 18 months with many working to support the delivery of the vaccination programme.

“The proven success of that combined effort continues as a remarkable cohort of staff in facility support roles will assist in acute settings at NHS Lanarkshire sites.

“Our priority is that the people in our communities who are the most vulnerable continue to receive the urgent care that they need and that critical services can be accessed.”

Cleland Sneddon, South Lanarkshire Council chief executive, added: “One positive aspect of Covid-19 has been the way public sector organisations have worked together to strengthen the collective effort against the pandemic.

“There are numerous examples of this, as indeed there are of community groups and volunteers stepping up to play their part too.

“I am pleased that, in this particular case, South Lanarkshire Council and South Lanarkshire Leisure and Culture staff have volunteered to help our colleagues in the NHS continue to deliver much-needed hospital services.

“They have received training for this and we will continue to give them the support they deserve for their selfless efforts.”