Plea from health chief over “extreme pressure” on services

NHS Borders chief officer has revealed that health services in the region are under “extreme pressure” ahead of the New Year.
Ralph Roberts, Chief Executive Officer at NHS Borders.Ralph Roberts, Chief Executive Officer at NHS Borders.
Ralph Roberts, Chief Executive Officer at NHS Borders.

Chief Executive officer Ralph Roberts has reported a spike in cases of Covid-19 and flu within the community and in hospitals.

Additionally, hospital beds are full and patients needing to be admitted are having to wait “longer than we would wish them to”.

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Mr Roberts said: “The past week has been exceptionally busy across NHS Borders, and the pressures are expected to persist over the forthcoming weekend and well into the new year.

“We are seeing high levels of flu and Covid-19 in the community and in our hospitals, with flu cases rising rapidly across Scotland to exceptional levels.

“Covid-19 levels are also increasing quickly and now we have as many patients in our hospitals who have tested positive for Covid-19 than at any time over the last few years.

“Please take the advice we have been giving; if you have symptoms of flu, Covid or any other winter viruses then you should stay at home, drink plenty of fluids and do not mix with other people to prevent spread. This is particularly important over the New Year weekend as we take steps to try and prevent an even bigger spike in infections, and to protect elderly and unwell members of the community.

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“If you are feeling under the weather and have a cough, cold, sore throat, fever or stomach bug please wait until you are feeling better (and have been symptom-free for 48 hours) before visiting your loved ones in our hospitals.

“Our primary care, community and hospital services are extremely busy and staff are doing everything they can to support patients. This mean that if you need to access your GP, our GP Out of Hours Service (BECS) or the Emergency Department you are likely to wait for longer than normal.

“Our hospital beds are also full and so patients who need to be admitted are waiting longer than we would wish for them to before a bed becomes available.

“Again, please help us manage the pressure on the Emergency Department and only come if your condition is life-threatening.”

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If you are unsure you can get advice from the community pharmacist by contacting NHS24 on 111.

Mr Roberts added: “We are grateful for your support which is really important if we are to continue to provide the level of care our staff want to provide to our local communities.”

The local health authority also sent out a plea for staff not rostered over the New Year to cover illnesses.

The statement on social media today said: "As you are aware, all of our services are under extreme pressure going into the New Year weekend. This is being compounded by higher than normal staff sickness levels due to Covid and Flu.

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“We are therefore asking any staff, and particularly those who are not currently rostered to work over the four-day weekend, to consider what extra time, day or night, you would be able to cover.

“We know that this is a very big ask on top of how hard everyone has been working, but we need to alleviate some of the pressure on staff who are rostered to work and do everything we can to keep our patients as safe as possible.

“If you are able to help please phone 01896 827473 or 01896 825535. Phone lines are open until 5pm today and between 10am and 2pm on Saturday and Sunday.

“If you hear the engaged tone please try again or email Hospital Management at [email protected] giving details of your name, skills and availability and a contact telephone number.

“We are looking for offers of support from all staff, including clinical, facilities and administration. Offers of help will be coordinated to the maximum effect.