Hospital staff in Moray have resorted to taking breaks in their cars due to a shortage of space indoors due to coronavirus restrictions.
A two-person per table limit has been imposed in the canteen at Dr Gray’s Hospital in Elgin to limit the chances of spreading Covid-19.
However, the restrictions in the room and elsewhere has left some NHS employees resorting to taking breaks away from frontline duties in cars and changing rooms.
One staff member has raised concerns about the effect the changes will have on doctors and nurses during the colder winter months.
The employee accepted extra rules were necessary to reduce the chance of spreading coronavirus within the Elgin unit, but called on changes to be made so breaks could be taken in suitable areas.
They said: “The two people per table and one-way system are all well and good, but due to this staff are having to sit in changing rooms or their cars in the car park as there is not enough space for them.
“Staff feel that as winter is now coming they are being put at risk of getting ill. Also, who wants to sit in car in the early hours of the morning if that’s your break time?”
NHS Grampian says changes are being made, where possible, to convert areas to provide extra space for staff to take rests.
Arrangements are also being made to ensure breaks are staggered as much as possible to avoid the canteen and other rooms being under pressure.
Alasdair Pattinson, general manager of Dr Gray’s, explained staff had not been encouraged to take breaks in cars but added that capacity issues were currently “unavoidable”.
He said: “The same principle applies in relation to bed numbers and we have no choice but to respond to essential infection control guidance.
“The safety of our staff and patients is of the utmost priority and we will continue to engage with staff at all levels in order to ensure adequate rest space.
“We have a dedicated safer workplace group which is focused on exactly this type of issue. This group would concur that to ask staff to congregate in small spaces, such as changing rooms, is not appropriate.
“I would also add that if any staff feel they have had no choice but to take their break in a changing room or their car, they are encouraged to communicate through their line management structures so this is raised and acted upon in the appropriate way.”