NE Scotland, Orkney & Shetland

'Busy' hospital turning patients away

Some operations have been cancelled and patients have faced long waits at accident and emergency departments following a busy weekend for hospitals in some parts of Scotland.

Patients are being redirected from a "very busy" Aberdeen Royal Infirmary and procedures have been postponed.

NHS Grampian said it had been experiencing "seasonal pressures".

Elsewhere, five people waited more than 12 hours to be admitted to the A&E department at Ayr Hospital.

NHS Ayrshire and Arran said it had been extremely busy at the weekend.

It said the waiting time in A&E was currently about four hours, and under two hours for minor injuries.

The emergency department at Forth Valley Royal Hospital dealt with more than 400 people over the weekend, some of whom waited longer than the four-hour target.


ANALYSIS

Eleanor Bradford, BBC Scotland Health Correspondent

The weekend after the Christmas break is usually busy, but some areas seem to be suffering from particularly high demand.

Every year health boards put in place an action plan to cope with an expected surge in demand, but in some areas the pressure has simply been too high.

We know that people aged over 65 are three times more likely to be admitted to hospital after attending as an emergency.

Therefore it only takes a small increase in the number of elderly going to A&E for the whole hospital system to be placed under major strain.

There are plans for more community care beds and greater partnerships between healthcare and social services, but clearly more needs to be done to address the demands placed on the system by the ageing population.


The Scottish Ambulance Service said its teams had been managing "higher than usual demand" across the country in recent days.

NHS Grampian said some patients may be redirected from the emergency department to a minor injury unit or their GP.

The health board also said some elective procedures were being postponed, to allow staff to concentrate on acute care.

It said the decision was "not taken lightly".

A spokesperson said: "We would like to remind the public that going to the emergency department may not be the right course of action.

"Our Know Who To Turn To website and leaflet contains useful information on the range of healthcare available.

"We are grateful to the public for their responsible use of our services and we apologise for any delays experienced during this time.

"We particularly want to thank all our staff for their hard work and commitment."

'Extra investment'

Health Secretary Shona Robison said: "We know the winter months can be challenging for our health boards, in particular A&E services.

"One key to addressing the challenge is tackling delayed discharge, which frees up capacity across the NHS.

"That is exactly why we've made over £28m available to support boards experiencing an increase in demand over the winter and ensured local plans are in place across Scotland, supported by this extra investment.

"This investment is enabling the creation of an extra 200 intermediate care beds across Scotland, expanding community capacity substantially."

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