Concerns have been raised that the transfer of patients from the other local authorities to Aberdeen could be linked to a Covid-19 outbreak at the north-east’s flagship hospital.
MSP Alexander Burnett last night said he had written to NHS Grampian after medics contacted him about patients from highly infectious areas of the country being sent north to be treated.
The letter, seen by the Press and Journal, calls for clarity on where the outbreak at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary (ARI) originated and the impact that the admission of patients from other cities could have on hospital resources.
NHS Grampian confirmed yesterday it had set up a specialist team to investigate an outbreak of Covid-19 at ARI, which is understood to have spread to staff.
A total of 26 cases have been detected within Ward 109 at the hospital – with around 10 medics thought to be infected.
Mr Burnett, MSP for Aberdeenshire West, said: “I have been contacted by health professionals who have told me patients from higher tier areas across Scotland are coming up to Aberdeen to be treated.
“NHS Grampian and the Scottish Government have a duty to tell the public this information on the grounds of safety.
“Patients who rely on ARI must be reassured this alarming situation is being investigated immediately so the number of people affected doesn’t rise.
“The Scottish Government must take urgent action to prevent this outbreak spreading even further throughout ARI and ensure contract tracing systems are working as robustly as possible.”
NHS Grampian said last night there was “no link” between the ARI outbreak on Ward 109 and patients transferred from outside Aberdeen.
It confirmed that a “small number” of Covid-19 patients from other health board regions have been admitted to the National Respiratory ECMO Centre, which is housed at ARI.
But a spokesman for the health board said: “Those patients are collected from their home boards by a highly specialised ECMO team and taken to ARI for the potentially life-saving treatment. We are the only centre in Scotland which offers respiratory ECMO.
“All of our Covid-19 patients are treated in designated Covid-19 ‘red areas’, where specialised measures are in place to protect the rest of our patients and staff.”
The north-east is in a lower tier than the rest of Scotland due to a small number of daily cases, this is despite three cases identified at Thistle Seafoods in Boddam, near Peterhead, over the past fortnight.
Martin McKay, service and conditions officer for Unison Aberdeen, said the outbreak of 26 cases at ARI shows the “risks NHS staff face on a daily basis”.
He added: “This is of real concern because it’s a big cluster.
“Staff safety is our priority because without the staff there is no care delivery and the immediate health impact on staff is important – especially on mental health.”
A Scottish Government spokesman said: “Aberdeen Royal Infirmary is an integral part of our National Health Service and provides clinical care for patients across the North and Islands and will continue to see and provide care to patients regardless of whether they come from higher prevalence areas, if deemed clinically necessary.
“A small number of Covid-19 patients from other health board regions have been admitted to the National Respiratory ECMO Centre for treatment, as discussed with their clinical team.”