latest health care news

04.01.18

Office staff take up hospital cleaning roles to tackle ‘unparalleled’ demand

Backroom staff at NHS Lanarkshire in Scotland are pitching in to help with cleaning and administrative duties in an effort to deal with enormous volumes of patients.

Officials at the health board, which runs three hospitals in central Scotland and is the third largest in the country, say the current situation is unparalleled and that “exceptional measures” have had to be put in place.

Many of the staff work in office roles at the hospitals or at the board’s Kirklands HQ, but have volunteered to take up other positions after facilities became inundated with patients over the festive wintry period.

The news comes amid massive pressure across the entirety of the NHS up and down the nation, forcing the National Emergency Pressures Panel to recommend that all non-urgent elective care in England be cancelled by trusts until at least the end of January.

NHS Lanarkshire chief executive Calum Campbell said staff across the board had to get involved to ensure patients can receive the care they need.

“This is an unparalleled situation in Lanarkshire and exceptional circumstances need exceptional measures to enable us to deliver our number one healthcare priority – patient safety,” he stated.

“We asked our office-based staff to consider volunteering to suspend their ‘day-job’ to support their clinical colleagues, bearing in mind our key purpose and commitment as an organisation to care for people who need our help. Not surprisingly, we’ve had a tremendous response which demonstrates the strong team spirit that exists within the NHS.”

The situation has also forced NHS Lanarkshire to recommend that people who have had certain highly contagious conditions try to stay out of hospital where the diseases could spread to other patients.

Dr Iain Wallace, the health board’s medical director, explained: “All of NHS Lanarkshire’s hospitals are extremely busy following the Christmas and New Year period so we ask that people do not attend A&E unless they require urgent and immediately necessary treatment.

“In addition, anyone who has had flu symptoms or diarrhoea or vomiting in the past 48 hours should not visit patients in hospital. These illnesses could be passed on to patients who are already very sick.”

Similar to trusts in England, NHS Lanarkshire has also had to postpone certain non-emergency procedures because of the mass surge in demand. Originally planned to start such activity again on 3 January, it has now pushed operations back for another week.

As well as the three hospital sites run by the board – in Hairmyres, Wishaw and Monklands – GP practices in the area will be returning to normal activity this week, prompting officials to offer help from NHS Lanarkshire staff to any general practitioners who need extra support.

Across the UK, winter pressures are causing chaos for patients and staff. Both the North East and East of England ambulance services have had to elevate their Resource Escalation Action Plan (REAP) levels to 4, indicating enormous pressures and difficulty coping with potentially life-threatening calls.

Top image: Andrew Milligan

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