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.

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