NHS Glasgow delays due to ‘unprecedented’ demand

15 A&E referrals to the Victoria Infirmary were diverted to other Glasgow hospitals. Picture: TSPL
15 A&E referrals to the Victoria Infirmary were diverted to other Glasgow hospitals. Picture: TSPL
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SCOTLAND’S largest health board has apologised to people who experienced delays after an “unprecedented” surge in demand from patients at its A&E departments.

NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde said on Monday night and into Tuesday this week they had seen a 25 per cent surge in attendances and a 24 per cent increase in admissions at its Victoria Infimary A&E.

The board said this “significant increase” in activity was also experienced elsewhere in the city and led to “a number of unacceptable lengths of stay” for some patients.

It was reported that some patients had to spend the night on trolleys due to the demand being experienced.

But NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde said levels of demand had now returned to normal. The cause of the surge remains unclear and was put down to a general increase in illnesses among the Glasgow population.

It comes after growing concern in recent months about poor performance in Scotland’s A&E departments, with targets being missed and some patients facing lenghthy waits.

Yesterday Health Secretary Alex Neil revealed the Scottish Government was encouraging more doctors from around the world to come to work in Scotland to help plug gaps in the workforce in high pressure areas such as A&E.

NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde said while the A&E patients affected by this week’s surge in demand were assessed and commenced on treatment where appropriate, they recognised that the lengthy waits for admission experienced by some were “suboptimal”.

To cope with the demand, 15 A&E referrals to the Victoria Infirmary were diverted to other Glasgow hospitals and 17 non-urgent routine elective operations that were due to take place this week were postponed. All urgent and cancer cases have been unaffected, the board said,

An extra nine inpatient beds in south Glasgow were opened up to help admit more patients.

The board also said it had agreed with Glasgow City Council to create additional care home capacity in the city to allow 50 patients awaiting a social care placement to be discharged from hospital.

Robert Calderwood, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde chief executive, apologised to those patients who experienced lengthy delays during the 48 hour period affected by the high demand.

“The demands that we have been experiencing are unprecedented for this time of year and I would like to pay tribute to my clinical colleagues in all our hospitals who have been working tirelessly to respond to this challenge,” he said.

“We have put in place a number of steps to alleviate some of these pressures and have seen the situation improve.

“I also wish to apologise to those patients who have had the inconvenience of having their planned admission postponed. All patients affected will be re-booked quickly and given as early alternative admission date that suits.”

The board added that health services had been a key part of the intensive planning for the Commonwealth Games which start next month and they were “fully confident” of their ability to respond to any eventuality as required.