Fears Scottish health boards have breached ICU capacity as senior medic warns hospitals are on the brink of chaos

Several intensive care units (ICUs) in Scottish hospitals are already beyond full capacity, with pressure on beds set to impact across the country, it has been claimed.

A senior medic, who works at Queen Elizabeth University Hospital (QEUH) in Glasgow and asked to remain anonymous, told The Scotsman that ICUs in NHS Lanarkshire and NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde were now over capacity.

The claim comes after the QEUH had to turn away several ambulances this week as it battled to cope with rising Covid-19 cases.

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A senior medic in Scotland has warned of over capacity issues in hospitals across the country.A senior medic in Scotland has warned of over capacity issues in hospitals across the country.
A senior medic in Scotland has warned of over capacity issues in hospitals across the country.

Scottish Government figures showed 1,877 new cases of Covid were reported in the 24 hours to Sunday.

The number of people in intensive care across Scotland had risen from 109 to 123 – the highest daily jump since October.

A total of 1,598 people are currently in hospital with recently-confirmed Covid – up from Saturday's figure of 1,596 patients, which was the highest number since the outbreak began.

The frontline doctor suggested NHS Lanarkshire was now “full”, claiming the health board was already at double their intended capacity in ICU.

The medic also claimed that NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde hospitals were overflowing at up to 150 per cent of their full capacity, while the Inverclyde Royal Hospital in Greenock was “about to go into freefall” with the “highest prevalence in Scotland and no functioning ICU”.

The medic said: "When we fall, the rest of Scotland will follow suit.”

Despite concerns over capacity issues, NHS bosses confirmed they had “no plans” to use Glasgow's NHS Louisa Jordan hospital, which was built to absorb capacity issues created by the spread of Covid-19.

Deputy First Minister John Swinney warned Scotland was facing "a very alarming situation" with the virus.

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Eddie Docherty, NHS Lanarkshire executive director for nursing, midwifery and allied health professions, said: “The number of patients in our ICUs varies on a daily basis. We are currently experiencing a high number of Covid-19 patients across our hospitals, which continues to cause severe pressure on our resources.

“At present, we have no plans to use NHS Louisa Jordan as we continue to make optimum use of our own facilities.

"The safety of our patients and staff is of paramount importance and we take all necessary action to ensure safe and effective patient care.”

A statement from NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde said: “We continue to manage significant numbers of Covid-19 positive patients in our hospitals. As of January 9, we have an overall number of 823 Covid patients in our hospitals, 454 patients of whom have been an inpatient for less than 28 days and 30 patients in ICU with Covid-19, an increase of three since January 5.

“We are working closely with clinical teams and infection control advisors to ensure all patients continue to be treated safely and effectively.

“At this time, we have bed availability to cope with the current demands on our services. Our surge plans remain in place to increase capacity if required.”

Responding to the over capacity concerns, a Scottish Government spokesperson said: “Nationally, Scottish NHS Boards now have over 100 very ill COVID patients in intensive care and there were 88 admissions to Intensive Care Units (ICUs) in the last seven days.

“We have already doubled capacity since the start of the pandemic, and still have the ability to extend it further, giving us confidence we have enough intensive care capacity across the country.

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“Our Health Boards are in constant communication with the Scottish Government and each other to ensure we use the whole country’s capacity appropriately and the Cabinet Secretary discussed the situation and our response with NHS Board Chief Executives on Friday.

“The way to ensure our health service is protected and to limit the number of people needing to be admitted to hospital, is for people to stay at home and abide by all the national restrictions. That is our shared response to protect ourselves, our NHS and save lives and it is needed now more than ever.”

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