Operations cancelled as Scots A&E units swamped

Hospitals across Scotland are feeling pressure on services. Picture: Greg Macvean
Hospitals across Scotland are feeling pressure on services. Picture: Greg Macvean
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Some planned medical procedures have been postponed and patients have experienced long waits at accident and emergency departments during a busy few days for the NHS in parts of ­Scotland.

NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde said it is experiencing “extreme pressure” on its systems and has had to postpone 44 planned procedures since yesterday. NHS Lothian deferred “a small number” of procedures yesterday and today.

NHS Grampian said it postponed 20 planned, or elective, procedures today and said Aberdeen Royal Infirmary was “particularly busy”.

A spokeswoman said winter pressures were partly behind the situation and stressed that it was not due to staffing issues.

News of the difficulties emerged yesterday as Prime Minister David Cameron admitted that the NHS in England is under pressure after waiting times in accident and emergency departments rose to their worst levels in more than a decade.

Health professionals in English hospitals warned of a crisis in the health service after records showed just 92.6 per cent of patients were seen within four hours, well below the 95 per cent target.

In Scotland, NHS Ayrshire and Arran said the A&E department of University Hospital Ayr had been “extremely busy” in recent days. Over Sunday and Monday, five patients waited more than 12 hours to be admitted to an ­appropriate bed.

Forth Valley Royal Hospital was also unable to maintain the four-hour target in all cases at the emergency department.

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NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde apologised to patients who experienced lengthy waits.

A spokesman said: “Over the past few days we have experienced intense pressures on our emergency departments.

“Despite the best efforts of staff right across our acute hospitals system and from colleagues in the community, many patients have had to wait far longer than we would want them to.”

An NHS Grampian spokeswoman confirmed that 20 minor procedures were postponed yesterday.

A statement said: “This decision – which has not been taken lightly – will allow clinicians to concentrate on acute and emergency care.

“We apologise to all patients affected and will rearrange their procedure as soon as possible.”

Liz Moore, director for acute services at University Hospital Ayr, said: “While we are trying to ensure all patients are ­assessed and treated as quickly as ­possible, there have been some breaches of the waiting-time ­target.”

Three patients waited more than 12 hours on Sunday, and two waited that length of time on Monday. Currently, the waiting time for patients requiring admission is around four hours; for minor illness or injuries it is under two hours.

NHS Forth Valley said the emergency department at the Forth Valley Royal was busy at the weekend, with just under 400 people attending over ­Saturday and Sunday.

James Crombie, director of scheduled care at NHS Lothian, said: “We are experiencing a very busy period … and as a consequence of this we have deferred a number of elective procedures. We sincerely apologise to all those affected.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “We know the winter months can be challenging for our health boards. One key to addressing the challenge is tackling delayed discharge, which frees up capacity across the NHS.

“That is exactly why we’ve made over £28 million available to support boards experiencing an increase in demand over the winter and ensured local plans are in place across Scotland, supported by this extra investment.”

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