NHS Lanarkshire’s executive medical director is appealing to residents to consider alternatives to A&E or expect long waits as pressure on hospitals continues to be a major concern.
Dr Jane Burns is urging people not to attend accident and emergency unless their condition is “urgent or life-threatening” as the number of Covid patients in hospitals across Lanarkshire reached continues to rise.
She 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.
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“Our three acute hospital sites are beyond full with capacity regularly over 100 per cent.
“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.”
Dr Burns also admitted that the rising Covid numbers are also having a severe knock-on effect to staff.
Staff absences remain high due to self-isolation which is in challenges across all of the healthboard’s services with staff struggling to cope.
She added: “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.
“The safety of our patients and staff is our top priority and we are taking all necessary steps to ensure safe and effective patient care and address the current pressures.
“However, we also understand that when someone has an illness or minor injury they want help as soon as possible and the emergency department is open 24 hours seven days a week but there are alternatives to the emergency department.
“If someone’s condition is not critical or life-threatening we want people to think ‘is an emergency department the right place for me to seek healthcare or is there an alternative where I can still be treated with the same level of care’.
“There are alternatives including our minor injuries units, a call to NHS 24 on 111 day or night who will direct people to the right NHS service which will result in people being seen and treated quicker.
“If someone does have to come to one of our emergency departments, they need to be prepared to face long waits to be seen, in some instances several hours.
“This can lead to patients getting frustrated with our staff but we ask that people be patient and be kind and considerate to our staff.
“We are working extremely hard in very difficult circumstances to do the very best we can for each and every one of our patients.”
Residents are reminded that if anyone does attend one of our emergency departments staff may redirect them towards other more appropriate services.
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