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by Louise Wilson
22 October 2021
NHS Lanarkshire cancels cancer procedures after declaring ‘code black’

REUTERS / Alamy Stock Photo

NHS Lanarkshire cancels cancer procedures after declaring ‘code black’

NHS Lanarkshire has moved to the “highest risk” level following sustained pressure at three of its hospitals.

The health board said occupancy levels were “critical” and it was having to postpone planned procedures, including some cancer treatments.

Deputy chief executive Laura Ace described the situation as “unprecedented” and said it was hoped the move to ‘code black’ would help reduce pressures.

She said: “The sustained pressure continues across our three acute hospitals and is showing no signs of easing. We are facing relentless pressures, bed shortages and staff shortages due to sickness, stress and self-isolation and university hospitals Hairmyres, Monklands and Wishaw are all at maximum capacity.

“The safety of our patients and staff is our top priority and we are working through short and medium term actions to increase staffing and also improve the flow of patients out of hospital.”

The health board is currently being supported by the military in a bid to alleviate staffing shortages caused by Covid-19.

On Tuesday, a total of 63 military personnel were deployed, made up of three nurses, 45 military medics, 12 general duties troops and three drivers who will be working in acute settings.

The majority of non-urgent planned procedures were cancelled at the end of August and patients have been warned to expect longer waits at A&E.

Ace added: “Patients are having to wait much longer to be seen than we would like, and well in excess of our target of four hours. A high number of these patients need to be admitted which is causing severe pressures throughout our hospitals.”

Labour’s Jackie Baillie said it was proof the NHS in Scotland is in a “full-blown crisis”.

She said: “It is a national scandal that cancer operations are being cancelled when we are already playing catch-up and it is frankly terrifying that we have reached this point before winter has hit.

“Lives are on the line because of the SNP’s negligence.

“They need to wake up to the scale of the emergency they’ve created and come up with a recovery plan that is fit for purpose.”

Scottish Lib Dem leader Alex Cole-Hamilton called for the health board to be given additional support and resources.

He said: “After over 18 months of pandemic, and as winter approaches, the government should have had a real plan in motion.”

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