Health bosses are poised to spend almost £17 million to add an extra 120 beds at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary (ARI) over the next two years.
The health board launched a major review earlier this year to find immediate and long-term solutions to meet increasing demand at the city hospital.
There is a rising pressure on beds as occupancy has increased and patients find themselves dealing with “more complex issues” that require longer hospital stays.
Patients checking into A&E have often been left waiting hours for treatment, with NHS Grampian missing its waiting time targets.
Bosses they the lack of available beds to move people into is an “exit block” when it comes to freeing up space in the emergency department.
That means low bed numbers have also contributed to ambulances being forced to wait outside.
In a report due to go to the board later this week, health chiefs have admitted the bed base at ARI is “inadequate” to meet demand.
They added: “Emergency department performance against the four, eight and 12-hour waiting times and ambulance stacking remain enduring challenges due to exit block from the emergency department because of lack of capacity in ARI.
“This is having a significant impact on not only system performance, but also staff wellbeing.”
Where will the extra beds go at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary?
Health bosses have agreed to add 40 beds by March 2024.
Of this number, 32 will be provided for elderly and respiratory care, while some will also be given to the general medicine ward.
The papers confirm that an “appropriate location” in ARI is available.
The new beds will be added to the hospital over four proposed stages, with the cost of additional staffing to cover the extra beds estimated as £16.835 million.
A review of the impact that the additional beds has had will be carried out in the spring before any work on the second stage is carried out.
What will happen to the other beds?
But, the remaining 80 beds won’t be signed off until the health board manages to find suitable funding.
At the moment, NHS Grampian is overspending by £42.9 million.
The report adds: “In order to commission and fund these additional beds, there will need to be a mixture of service prioritisation and pathway redesign in order to deliver services at a reduced cost.”
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Meanwhile, they will help to reduce patients being cared for in hospital corridors and prevent sending poorly patients to other specialty wards.
Those placed in other wards can sometimes spend more time in hospital and be moved to multiple wards during their stay.
The report says there is an “ambitious” timeframe to provide extra staffed bed capacity at ARI in time for an expected surge in demand over the winter.
And a failure to reach this target “may affect confidence and credibility with citizens, colleagues, Scottish Government and partners”.