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120 new beds to slash A&E waiting times at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary

Health chiefs are poised to roll out the £17m plan as they admit current bed numbers at ARI are "inadequate" to meet increasing demand.

The new beds will help to reduce waiting times at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary. Image: Chris Sumner/DC Thomson
The new beds will help to reduce waiting times at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary. Image: Chris Sumner/DC Thomson

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.

Ambulances outside A&E at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary, which has been plagued by long wait times due to a lack of beds.
Ambulances sit outside Aberdeen Royal Infirmary (ARI). Image: Kenny Elrick/DC Thomson

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.

Aerial view of Aberdeen Royal Infirmary.
Health bosses say the extra beds will help to reduce waiting times at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary. Image: Kami Thomson/DC Thomson

The papers confirm that an “appropriate location” in ARI is available.

NHS Grampian is currently in the process of recruiting much-needed new members of staff to cope with the increase, including newly graduated nurses.

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.”

Ambulances outside Aberdeen Royal Infirmary.
The new beds will aim to put a stop to ambulances having to wait outside A&E at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary. Image: Kami Thomson/DC Thomson

Have you experienced delays at ARI? Let us know in our comments section below


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”.

Shock report reveals day of crisis in Aberdeen Royal Infirmary

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