I don’t think we’ll ever recover from Covid, warns NHS medic

The A&E department at Paisley's Royal Alexandra Hospital is the latest to be overwhelmed with patients.

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A leading medic has said she does not think the NHS will ever recover from the coronavirus pandemic amid the rising pressure on A&E.

The department at Paisley’s Royal Alexandra Hospital is the latest to be overwhelmed with patients as Covid cases surge across Scotland.

Claire Harrow, the clinical director for medicine, has said doctors are facing unprecedented pressure and much of the work force is exhausted.

She told STV News: “We have no beds for surgical admissions. This is a consequence of wards being closed because of Covid.

 Claire Harrow, the clinical director for medicine.
Claire Harrow, the clinical director for medicine.

“So we are continuing to monitor those wards that are closed and what we’re trying to do is to find a way to safely move the patients around to free up beds, so that if someone comes with abdominal pain and needs to have a bed, there is a bed for them.

“It was anticipated that it would be like this.

“We were frightened of what we were going to face but this is just really difficult.”

She added: “I don’t think we’ll ever recover from Covid – there’s a lot of non-Covid harm that’s been done to people – both in terms of physical illness and also the psychological impact.”

Covid infections have been rising across Scotland for eight weeks and reached another record high on Friday.

Nearly half a million people, or one in 11, had covid in Scotland last week up from one in 14.

Emergency medicine consultant, Dr Raghavendra Neyak, said he has not seen demand like this for several years.

 Emergency medicine consultant, Dr Raghavendra Neyak.
Emergency medicine consultant, Dr Raghavendra Neyak.

He said: “We’ve not seen demand like this for several years – along with staffing issues, people are laying in the corridors for hours at a time.

“We are trying to do the best we can with the resources we’ve got but we are struggling – it’s just absolutely overwhelming.

“Sometimes we have 40 to 50 patients in the A&E department at midnight – that never used to happen before.”

Now NHS Lanarkshire is the latest health board to warn people not to attend accident and emergency departments unless their condition is urgent or life threatening.

NHS Lanarkshire’s executive medical director Dr Jane Burns said: “There are a number of reasons for the current relentless pressures on Lanarkshire hospitals but primarily it is the number of patients requiring treatment both with and without Covid.

“Our three acute hospital sites are beyond full with capacity regularly over 100%. This has been the case for a number of weeks and the situation is not easing. In fact, this week hospitals across Scotland including Lanarkshire have seen a record number of Covid patients.

“Unfortunately, this is resulting in many patients in our emergency departments waiting well in excess of our target of four hours for a condition that could have been treated by another healthcare service. It is also putting pressure on how quickly we can admit patients who require emergency care.

“The rising Covid number is also having a severe knock-on effect to our staff. We have high staff absences due to Covid and self-isolation which is resulting in challenges across all our health services and our staff are struggling to cope.”