Scotland Covid resurgence leaves patients waiting for 10 hours in A&E

Hospitals in Lanarkshire have said they are 'working beyond maximum capacity'

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Hospitals in Lanarkshire are “working beyond maximum capacity”, the health board has said, with many patients waiting more than 10 hours to be seen in accident and emergency.

Bosses at NHS Lanarkshire have now urged people to consider alternatives to A&E and to expect long waits as pressure on its three acute sites continues to mount.

Russell Coulthard, deputy director of acute services, said “our three acute sites are full” with resurging coronavirus infections straining the health board.

“Covid-19 numbers are on the rise with 194 Covid patients across the three acute sites today (Friday). To put that in perspective, numbers had fallen to 66 in the middle of last month but have been increasing ever since and show no sign of levelling off or decreasing,” he said.

File photo dated 20/10/20 of staff on a hospital ward. Health unions are calling for an inflation-busting pay rise to tackle the NHS staffing crisis and increasing waiting times for treatment. Issue date: Monday January 24, 2022.
File photo dated 20/10/20 of staff on a hospital ward. Health unions are calling for an inflation-busting pay rise to tackle the NHS staffing crisis and increasing waiting times for treatment. Issue date: Monday January 24, 2022.

“The knock-on effect of that is we have staff absences due to Covid and we continue to face significant staffing challenges across health services and our staff are struggling to cope.

“We also have wards closed across our sites due to Covid which again reduces beds available to patients and creates further additional pressures while we are trying to recover services and treat patients who need our care.

“These combined pressures mean that we have had to take some difficult decisions. These include reintroducing essential visiting across our three acute hospitals earlier this week.

“The safety of our patients and staff is our top priority and we are taking all necessary action to ensure safe and effective patient care and address the current pressures. We are making the best use of the staff and beds that are available to enable us to treat patients appropriately.”

The 10-hour wait faced by some patients in emergency departments across Lanarkshire is well in excess of its four-hour target.

Dr Calvin Lightbody, A&E consultant at University Hospital Hairmyres, is urging people in Lanarkshire to access the right care they need in a bid to keep emergency departments free for those with emergency care needs.

He said: “We are seeing exceptionally high numbers of people attending our three emergency departments. It is extremely busy and overcrowded but we are working our best to try to get through the huge number of patients.

“If you have an emergency condition such as chest pain, breathing difficulties, severe pain or major bleeding then you should come to A&E as usual and we are very much open for business.”

Earlier this year NHS Lanarkshire, which declared a black alert, told its GPs to focus only on the most serious cases as it creaked under the Omicron wave.