Vaccine nurses have been forced to step away from their roles amid staff shortages at an Elgin hospital.
Due to increasing cases of Covid-19 in the community, nurses and healthcare workers have been released from the Fiona Elcock Vaccination Centre to provide additional support at Dr Gray’s Hospital.
NHS Grampian say that the staffing issue at the hospital is down to rising case numbers in the area and the associated requirement for close contacts to isolate.
Sick leave, planned holidays and a backlog of routine care have also played a part.
However, NHS Grampian say the temporary relocation of staff will not have a negative impact on the vaccination programme in Moray.
‘Healthcare in general is under sustained pressure’
A spokesperson for NHS Grampian said: “We have released a small number of staff, comprising of nurses and healthcare support workers, from the vaccination programme to provide additional support at Dr Gray’s Hospital.
“This is for a limited period and will not have a negative impact on the vaccination programme in Moray. The Fiona Elcock Vaccination Centre remains open seven days a week for booked appointments and drop-in vaccinations.
“Healthcare in general is under sustained pressure at present, due to increasing cases of COVID-19 in the community and the associated requirement for close contacts to isolate.
“In addition we are managing other sick leave and planned holidays and an increase in activity as we deal with a backlog of routine care.
“We remain grateful to the general public for their support and appropriate and sensible use of healthcare services.”
‘Staff used and abused’
Claiming that senior managers were creating unsafe conditions as a result of the reduced numbers, the anonymous whistle-blower said: “The staff left are being used and abused and morale is rock bottom”.
They also claimed that management suggested to staff that they do 13-hour shifts and go on-call overnight into a day off.
However, NHS Grampian and the Scottish Government both insist the wellbeing of staff is top priority.
Locals concerned over NHS support
Chief nurse in Moray Samantha Thomas said in a statement that she is “very proud of the amazing work our staff have undertaken, under very difficult circumstances”, confirming that there are 12 new vacancies created within the theatre nursing team – some of which have already been filled.
However, Conservative MP for Moray and MSP for the Highlands and Islands Douglas Ross says he has called an urgent meeting with NHS Grampian and the management team at the Elgin hospital.
He previously said that local residents had relayed their concerns over NHS support in Moray, with the revelations described by the overworked nurse “only heightening those concerns”.
‘Code black’ at north-east hospitals
Over the last fortnight, Dr Gray’s, along with other hospitals in the north-east, has frequently been at “black” status.
We reported that over 100 cases are being recorded on a daily basis at Raigmore Hospital with 1,300 in the last month alone – a fifth of NHS Highland’s total cases since the start of the pandemic.
NHS Grampian say the surge is down to multiple reasons, including capacity and staffing levels.