Red Cross volunteers have been drafted in to ease pressure on Aberdeen Royal Infirmary as staff continue to struggle with the demands of coronavirus and a backlog of patients.
Text messages have been sent out from the charity to people around the north-east, asking those with a PVG certificate to help with non-clinical roles at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary.
The message says support is required seven days a week, starting at 10am and finishing at 10pm – though the helpers can determine the length of their own shift.
It adds that “good mobility is essential”, as the primary roles required of volunteers include “movement of patients to wards and general patient support activities”.
Volunteers assisting for three weeks
NHS Grampian has now revealed that trained volunteers from the charity have been supporting their hospital staff for the past three weeks.
An NHS Grampian spokeswoman said: “We work extremely closely with our third sector partners, including the Red Cross, with whom we have a long standing transport arrangement.
“Their volunteers have also been offering additional support to us over the last three weeks, with trained volunteers providing pastoral support to patients, allowing staff to concentrate on clinical duties.
“We are extremely grateful to the Red Cross for their ongoing support.”
Marie Hayes, British Red Cross Director for Scotland said: “Our volunteers and staff have a proud history of supporting Scotland’s NHS and ambulance services, helping people in crisis to get the help they need, including transporting them home from hospital and doing what’s needed to make sure they are safe and well as they recover.
“We help all year round working in partnership with the NHS, local authorities and other voluntary organisations.
“Our trained teams are ready to help across Scotland at times of high demand, including recently during the Covid pandemic where we have worked with partners to support vaccine clinics, deliver testing programmes and provide assistance to hospital colleagues.”
Call for military support
Ten days ago, NHS Grampian made an appeal for help from the military amid concerns the pressures on the health service would only increase as Scotland heads into winter.
However, on Tuesday it was revealed that the request had not yet been received by the Ministry of Defence, with First Minister Nicola Sturgeon telling the Scottish Parliament it still needed to be “refined to an appropriate degree”.
Nurses, medics, drivers and general troops from the military had already been deployed to support NHS Lanarkshire and NHS Borders.
North East Conservative MSP Douglas Lumsden called the delay “inexcusable”.
He added: “Health boards will only ask the armed forces for help as a last resort — it’s a sign of how badly it’s needed.”
In response, a Scottish Government spokesperson said: “We have been working with NHS Grampian to refine details of the request.
“We expect to complete this process imminently, at which point a formal submission will be made to the MoD.”