Frontline staff in the north-east are appealing to members of the public to be use caution as mounting Covid cases and staffing pressures put increasing strain on health service.
Aberdeen Royal Infirmary and Dr Gray’s remain under ‘code black’ status as rising Covid cases stretch health facilities to capacity.
Dozens of procedures and appointments were cancelled during the course of this week, in an attempt to free up frontline workers to help alleviate the pressure.
NHS Highland faced a similar situation, cancelling all non-essential operations scheduled at Raigmore Hospital.
As the bank holiday weekend approaches, health officials are now appealing to north-east residents to be “sensible” to avoid escalating the strain on frontline workers.
“We can all play our part”
Division general manager for surgery, Cameron Matthew said: “Please be sensible, be responsible for yourself and stay safe, the hospitals across the north – be it Aberdeen Royal Infirmary, Dr Gray’s, Royal Aberdeen Children’s Hospital or any of our community hospitals – are exceptionally busy.
“We would also ask all DIY enthusiasts to think hard about safety before undertaking any work. Climbing ladders or small scaffolds to clear or paint guttering or windows, trimming bushes and trees are all popular DIY tasks at this time of year and result in a large number of hospital attendances.
“Use proper safety wear – gloves, ear and eye defenders, protective trousers, take your time do not rush, watch for trip hazards such as trailing cables, plan ahead, do not take on jobs for the first time.”
He added: “If you are returning to sport after a long break there is nothing wrong with taking it a bit more easy than usual as you build up your strength and fitness – for some people it will be a year since they last played sport.
“If you are having a few beers or glasses or wine, take responsibility and don’t binge drink. We also see cases of food poisoning from undercooked food from barbecues.
“We can all play our part in avoiding needless admissions by taking as much care as possible.”
Two of NHS Grampian’s flagship hospitals entered ‘code black status’ earlier this week as they reach capacity forcing them to cancel dozens of scheduled appointments and procedures.
NHS Grampian took the decision in an attempt to free up staff working on urgent and emergency care.
The board has been hit by low staff numbers as a growing number of frontline staff have been required to self isolate, while fellow staff take their annual leave or holidays.
An NHS Grampian spokeswoman said there had been “no significant change to the situation” in recent days, as health services remain exceptionally busy.
Moray MSP Richard Lochhead praised health staff for stepping up “in the most difficult of circumstances.”
He said: “As case numbers have shown over the last few weeks, coronavirus has not gone away and the recent increase in case numbers is having a serious impact on our local hospitals and health services.
“The pressures NHS Grampian has been working under in the last week or so is a stark reminder of the impact of covid on local health services and the need to ensure we’re all doing our bit to protect our NHS.
“The staff in our local hospitals have done a phenomenal job over the last year and in the most difficult of circumstances, but they’re relying on all of us to keep doing all we can to limit the spread of this virus and to help get case numbers down so they can continue to care for people in our local communities.”
Mr Mathew’s added: “We’d also like to thank our staff for their herculean efforts. Everyone of the thousands of people who work for NHS Grampian have gone above and beyond for well over a year now and continue to do so on a daily basis.
“Without each and every one of you more people would have had less positive outcomes or may not be alive at all. We truly couldn’t have asked for more from you.”
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NHS Highland feel the heat
NHS Highland also placed Raigmore Hospital on high alert following a surge in admissions and Covid-19 cases.
Health officials were forced to mirror the move by their neighbouring health board, cancelling all non-essential procedures at the Inverness facility.
An NHS Highland spokesman said approaching the weekend, services remain “under severe pressure.”
Highlands and Islands MSP Edward Mountain said it was going to be a “delicate balance” to ensure vital services are fully functional despite staffing pressures.
“I’m thankful that there is a break in the connection between case numbers and hospitalisations due to vaccinations.
“There is no doubt that the pressures on staffing due to the requirement for people to isolate and take their holidays is causing problems for the hospital.
“It will be a delicate balance for the hospital management to ensure that they have correct staff available to maintain the levels of service they need.”