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NHS Grampian’s plan to tackle operations backlog almost complete

NHS Grampian is in the process of completing remobilisation plans for 2021-22.

Jeane Freeman says NHS Grampian will submit its plan for restarting non-Covid-19 services by next week.

The health secretary says the latest figures for the health board from December 30 show 10,680 patients were waiting more than 12 weeks for surgical procedures.

North-east MSP Tom Mason raised the number of elective procedures on the health board’s books, according to data published this month.

In December 2020, Grampian had 219 cancelled theatre operations out of 2,050.

He said: “According to the latest data, in December planned operations in the NHS Grampian area were cancelled at the second-highest rate of any health board.

“This is in addition to procedures postponed since March last year, which number well into the thousands.

“We understand hospitals must prioritise treating coronavirus but these are critical operations, and the effect of cancellation on patients can be severe.”

The health secretary said she is “aware of these current pressures and anticipated them in response to the work against the Covid-19 pandemic“.

As a result, Ms Freeman said the Scottish Government published in November the clinical prioritisation framework for elective care.

This sets out the principles that NHS boards follow when considering the decisions around prioritising cases on their elective care waiting list during the pandemic.

NHS Grampian services
Jeane Freeman visits the north-east in 2018.

The health secretary added: “At the same time NHS Grampian, like other boards, is also in the process of completing its plan for 2021-22 about restarting services as we successfully suppress the virus.

“These plans will seek to balance the need to address the backlog alongside the time and support needed for frontline staff to recover from the significant pressure that they have been working under for 12 months now.”

Ms Freeman said the plans for restarting services will be submitted to the Scottish Government by the start of next week.

Plans taking shape

A spokesman for NHS Grampian said it is in the process of completing plans for 2021-22, which will look at how the health board remobilises all its services as the country moves beyond the second peak of the pandemic.

He added: “During the last few months, we have been extremely grateful to take advantage of capacity at the Albyn Hospital to continue to carry out some of our elective operations during the second wave.

We are acutely aware that many people have waited much longer than they normally would have for operations as a result of the pandemic.”

NHS Grampian spokesman

“In the last month more than 100 procedures have taken place at the Albyn and we are incredibly grateful to them for their support.

“At our own facilities, some of our usual day-to-day services are already moving towards operating as they did prior to the start of Covid-19 pandemic last year, but we are aware of the extreme pressure our staff have been working under for 12 months and we are looking to remobilise in a way that supports them to recover, both mentally and physically, from the impact this has had.

“At the same time, we are acutely aware that many people have waited much longer than they normally would have for operations as a result of the pandemic.

“We would like to thank them for their continued patience and support at this time and apologise for any inconvenience caused as a result.”

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