NHS Grampian has warned it is being stretched further than ever before due to the pressures of the pandemic, with around 80 beds a day being used by Covid-19 patients.
Residents in the north-east are being asked for their understanding as the service continues to face challenges across health and community care across the region
The pandemic has strained the health board’s services and continues to apply an “incredible level of pressure” on it.
Health bosses have asked the public to “play their part” to alleviate the demand by using the right services at the right time – and getting vaccinated if they aren’t already.
Every day has ‘added challenge’
Adam Coldwells, deputy chief executive of NHS Grampian, said staffing the hospitals daily have become “more difficult” because of the increasing demand, where around 80 beds are being used by Covid-19 patients every day.
He added: “Every day comes with the added challenge to have enough beds to allow us to treat cancer patients, trauma patients, Covid-19 patients and other unplanned emergencies.
“There is an incredible effort to care for those who urgently need it.”
Mr Coldwells said this also extends to community hospitals and care settings, not just Aberdeen Royal Infirmary.
Staff are facing the same challenges in providing care, both at home or on a ward.
“It means those who can wait, will wait longer and longer for procedures including hip replacements, knee replacements, laparoscopies and other elective procedures – ultimately having a grave impact on those individual’s quality of life,” he added.
“We want to mitigate that as much as possible.”
The public is advised to use resources such as NHS Grampian’s Know Who To Turn To directory.
Mr Coldwells apologised to those who have dialled 111 and had to wait, as the “incredible level of pressure” is also affecting NHS24.
‘We need to protect those who protect us’
Mr Coldwells added that it was vital people who have not yet been vaccinated do so, and urgently.
He said: “We want to continue to serve our communities in the north-east of Scotland and beyond.
“When thinking twice about vaccination, I would urge the public not only to think about their own wellbeing and that of our loved ones, but we must include our own staff across health, social care and the ambulance service in that.
“We need to protect those who protect us. It’s that simple.”
Sooner discharged patients going home – the better
The health board also urged residents to play their part in caring for loved ones and friends, and for employers to allow them to do so.
“We still see the vast majority of people who are fit to go home being collected by relatives and friends at around 6pm in the evening – following their work,” Mr Coldwells said.
“We need employers to be flexible to allow employees to help us get people who are fit to go home from hospital there sooner.
“This benefits not just the patient being discharged but it allows us to admit an acutely ill person to that bed.
“Help us treat more people more quickly.
“If you are an employer we’d urge you to sign-up to the scheme and pledge your support to health care in the region – support our nurses, doctors, surgeons, porters, and everyone else.
“I would also urge employers to keep staff who can work from home, working from home.
“This does make a difference while the vaccination programmes are ongoing.
“We are still in a global pandemic and there has never been a period before where the health service has needed the public’s support so much. Let’s each play our part.”
Heartfelt thanks to health and social care
Mr Coldwells expressed his gratitude to the workers across the region for the last 20 months.
He said: “I want to give a heartfelt thanks to everyone across health and social care for the incredible work that they do in these times.
Health and Social Care Update 28.10.21
— NHS Grampian (@NHSGrampian) October 28, 2021
“From people on the front line to staff working from home to keep these systems going, every cog is needed to keep the wheels turning.
“We are lucky to have our health service. Let’s cherish it.”