NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde on Wednesday apologised to patients as it announced a pause to non-urgent elective procedures and pledged to “make every possible effort to offer them an alternative date at the first opportunity”.
The health board’s announcement came a day after Health Secretary Humza Yousaf gave the health service an extra £8 million of taxpayers’ money to help it deal with the “extraordinary pressures” in the midst of the “single most challenging winter that the NHS in Scotland has ever faced”.
A spokesman for NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde said: “Our services, like the whole of NHS Scotland, are facing major pressures, including significant Covid, flu and norovirus cases, and our staff are doing all they can to meet this demand.
“To support our A&E departments, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde has taken the decision to pause non-urgent elective procedures to prioritise urgent treatment and cancer care.
“This decision was not taken lightly and is under constant review.
“We would like to apologise to patients waiting for an elective procedure. We will make every possible effort to offer them an alternative date at the first opportunity.”
The health board follows NHS Arran and Ayrshire and NHS Borders in taking the step as pressure on the health service increases.
Earlier this week Nicola Sturgeon admitted Scotland’s hospitals were “almost completely full”, with them surpassing 95% of their capacity on January 4 compared with pre-pandemic levels of 87%.
The First Minister said high levels of flu and rising Strep A cases were to blame, alongside delayed discharges, of which 1,700 people were waiting to leave hospital but could not.
After NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde became the latest to announce a pause on non-urgent procedures, Scottish Conservative health spokesman Sandesh Gulhane branded the “worrying announcement” as an “admission of the huge pressure Scotland’s largest health board is under as a result of Humza Yousaf’s chronic mismanagement of our NHS”.
“This may be a necessary emergency measure to alleviate pressure and allow GGC (NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde) to focus on its most urgent and life-threatening cases, but it will lead to further delays and backlogs down the line to already unacceptable waiting times for treatment,” he said.
“The SNP’s dire workforce planning has left our health service desperately short of frontline staff and unable to meet patient demand.”