Outcry as dementia units close due to staffing crisis

Aberdeen's Cornhill Hospital
Aberdeen's Cornhill Hospital

North-east politicians have raised concerns over the closure of two Aberdeen dementia units due to staffing.

NHS Grampian announced last week that it will temporarily close Loirston ward and Lochhead Day Hospital at Cornhill Hospital.

A total of 38 dementia patients will be affected by the move, but hospital bosses have said it is too unsafe to continue running the services due to staffing problems.

The hospital has more than 55 registered trained nursing vacancies – amounting to 22% of its workforce.

Jane Fletcher, head of hosted mental health and learning disability services, said the team were looking to find a “long-term solution”, but added: “It is simply unsafe for us to try to run our services, in their current format, with that number of unfilled posts.”

Now politicians have called for the Scottish Government to do more to support NHS Grampian.

North East MSP Mike Rumbles said: “This is typical of funding problems that Grampian health services have faced for a long time.

“The worst part is the fact that this has very serious repercussions on real people.”

Aberdeen South MP Ross Thomson described it as “alarming”, and said: “With one fifth of the workforce missing, NHS Grampian clearly feels there is no choice but to close these units. This will obviously be a very worrying time for patients and their families, who will be concerned at the impact this could have.”

Lewis Macdonald, North East MSP, added: “These closures will mean some people won’t receive the care they need. We must now see the Scottish Government and neighbouring health boards lend NHS Grampian the necessary support.”

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “We recognise that the north-east faces a range of complex challenges. Despite the UK Government’s cuts to the Scottish Resource Budget, we are committed to providing the necessary support and funding to enable the area to thrive.

“NHS Grampian is receiving a resource budget increase of 2.1% this year, which is the highest percentage increase of any board and takes the annual budget to £921 million. We understand the increasing demand and expectations placed on frontline services and NHS Grampian will also receive a share of £175m to support reform.”