NHS Lanarkshire returns to 'highest risk level'

time:2023-06-01 10:54:00 source:CBS News

NHS Lanarkshire has warned its three hospitals are operating "beyond critical occupancy levels" due to staff and bed shortages.

The health board confirmed University hospitals Hairmyres, Monklands and Wishaw are all at maximum capacity.

It means a return to the "highest risk level" for the first time since October last year.

Patients have been asked not to attend accident and emergency unless their condition is life-threatening.

Visiting arrangements remain unchanged but will be kept under review.

Heather Knox, NHS Lanarkshire chief executive, said: "We are facing relentless pressures, bed shortages and staff shortages due to annual leave, sickness absence and self-isolation.

"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 in and out of hospital.

"The current situation puts us back to the highest level of risk for NHS Lanarkshire."

One in 15 people in Scotland were estimated to have Covid last week as cases increased for the seventh week in a row.

The current wave is being driven by the coronavirus subvariants Omicron BA.4 and BA.5, which are more transmissible than previous strains.

Ms Knox said the impact of the pressures is being felt right across the health and social care system, including GP practices.

She added A&E departments remained "extremely busy" and urged people to call NHS24 to access the right care - unless their life was in danger.

Ms Knox said: "We recognise that experiencing long waits can lead to people getting frustrated but we ask that people be patient and be kind and considerate to our staff at all times.

"We are working extremely hard in very difficult circumstances to do the very best we can for each and every one of our patients."

Jackie Baillie, Scottish Labour's health spokeswoman, described the development as "incredibly concerning" and said it "underlines the perpetual crisis in Scotland's NHS".

She added: "The people of Lanarkshire have had to cope with a health board that is constantly under immense pressure, whilst this SNP government fails to provide the help it needs.

"While NHS staff work tirelessly, Scotland's missing in action Health Secretary is nowhere to be seen.

"Nothing short of a long-term plan to support Scotland's health boards and reinforce hard-working staff will do."

A Scottish government spokesman said the health service continued to face the most difficult challenge in its 74-year history.

He added: "We know that the pandemic is not over and that Covid-19 and other pressures will continue to impact the NHS for some time.

"We recognise the significant additional pressure staff are facing both within NHS Lanarkshire and indeed across our health and care services, at this time.

"We will continue to do all we can to seek to alleviate those demand pressures and provide support for their wellbeing."

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