Scotland’s weather: Snow prompts postponement of NHS operations

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The heavy snowfall has led to routine operations being cancelled in some NHS hospitals as patients and staff struggled to make it to appointments.

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Around ten non-urgent procedures were postponed in NHS Lothian yesterday and evening clinics were cancelled while NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde last night took the step of postponing all routine elective procedures today.

With more bad weather forecast for today, NHS Borders also postponed today’s outpatient appointments and non- urgent elective procedures at the Borders General Hospital. Outpatient clinics at community hospitals in the Borders have also been postponed.

A NHS Borders spokesman said patients would be contacted directly if their appointment or procedure was considered urgent and promised that appointments would be rearranged as soon as possible.

A spokesman for NHS Greater Glasgow yesterday said: “In view of the forecast of further adverse weather conditions, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde has taken the decision to cancel all routine elective procedures and all hospital outpatient appointments. Emergency and essential elective procedures will still go ahead. This decision covers inpatient and day case electives and outpatient clinics.
“This decision does not relate to clinics within health centres and GP practices.”

A cyclist braves the elements at the Kelpies. Picture: PA

A cyclist braves the elements at the Kelpies. Picture: PA

The spokesman added that the weather had caused “severe disruption” to the West of Scotland Breast Screening Mobile Units.

This has resulted in appointments being cancelled today at units in Motherwell, Wishaw, Barrhead, Renfrew, Paisley, Erskine and Easterhouse.

The spokesman added: “We apologise to the patients affected by these cancellations and will contact them to arrange alternative appointments as soon as possible. NHSGGC is urging people to use the NHS wisely and make full use of NHs 24, pharmacies and its dedicated minor injury units (MIUs) to ensure they are treated quickly.

“Members of the public are reminded that while staff are always there for them when needed, it’s important that clinical services always be prioritised to those who most urgently require it. There are a range of options available as outlined above and we would urge patients to use these services rather than attending an emergency department, which is for serious injuries and major emergencies only.”

Jacquie Campbell, chief officer of acute services, NHS Lothian, said: “We couldn’t function without all of our super staff and I would like to thank all of those who went above and beyond to come to work in such difficult conditions.

“It has been a very busy day in NHS Lothian, which has been made more difficult by the extreme weather. However, we have tried to make it business as normal for our patients and staff.

“Our daytime outpatient clinics ran as normally and most of our scheduled procedures went ahead as planned. Unfortunately, we did have to defer around ten elective procedures across our sites and we took the decision to postpone evening outpatient clinics to protect patient and staff safety.

“We are expecting to work on the same basis tomorrow, but we are urging staff and patients to be safe and sensible about going to work and appointments and we are asking them to liaise with clinics and colleagues ahead of time if they are experiencing difficulties.”

 At NHS Dumfries and Galloway, five non-emergency, elective surgeries were cancelled as a result of the weather. While a NHS Tayside spokesman said a “small number” of non urgent procedures planned for yesterday had to be postponed.

The NHS Tayside spokesman said: “Patients and staff safety is always our priority and, therefore, due to the adverse weather conditions, the decision was made earlier this week to defer a small number of non-urgent planned procedures for today. All affected patients were advised of this decision and will be rescheduled as soon as possible.

 “All emergency, urgent, cancer and clinically prioritised elective surgeries went ahead as normal.”

In NHS Ayrshire and Arran, nine community dental cases were postponed.

Spokespeople for NHS Forth Valley, NHS Grampian, NHS Orkney and NHS Orkney and NHS Fife said operations had gone ahead.

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