NHS Lanarkshire moves to highest risk level amid “relentless” pressures

NHS Lanarkshire is moving to its highest risk level as it faces “critical occupancy levels across its three acute hospitals” amid continuing “unprecedented” and “relentless” pressure on its services.

Monklands, Wishaw and Hairmyres hospitals are all operating at their maximum possible capacities, and health board officials are asking families for assistance in helping to discharge patients home or to care placements.

Patients are being warned to expect lengthy waits at the area’s “overwhelmed” emergency departments, while planned operations including cancer procedures have been postponed.

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NHS Lanarkshire has five different risk levels ranging from green up to black and has now moved to that highest level due to “overall pressure on the whole health system in Lanarkshire”.

Military assistance is also already in place, with 63 additional medics having being brought in earlier this week to assist overstretched staff.

Health board deputy chief executive and strategic commander Laura Ace said: “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 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: “The safety of our patients and staff is our top priority. We are working through short- and medium-term actions to increase staffing and improve the flow of patients out of hospital, and the military are providing additional support.

“We took the decision at the end of August to postpone the majority of non-urgent planned care procedures. Unfortunately, the current pressures mean we are having to further stand down elective procedures including some cancer procedures, which we will reschedule as soon as possible.

“This week we issued a message warning patients to expect long waits at A&E as they are overwhelmed by the number of patients attending – 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 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.”

She added: “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 will help reduce the pressures on our staff and services in the coming days.”

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