The NHS is still experiencing “very acute demands” despite slight improvements this week, Nicola Sturgeon has said.
Speaking after a meeting of the Scottish Government’s Resilience Committee (SGoRR) on Friday, also attended by the Deputy First Minister, Health Secretary and other cabinet members, the First Minister said there were still “very acute demands” on the health service.
Ms Sturgeon heard updates on respiratory illness, hospital capacity and work being done to alleviate delayed discharges, according to the Scottish Government.
The NHS has struggled over the winter, with waiting times at record levels, along with delayed discharges.
However, A&E waiting times improved slightly this week, with 57.3% of attendances waiting more than four hours in the week up to January 8, compared with 56% the week before.
The Scottish Government announced a number of plans to ease the pressure, including urging health boards to reassess discharge plans and buy up care home beds to ease pressure caused by delayed discharges.
“There is no doubt that we are still seeing very acute demands across most of the health and social care system,” the First Minister said.
“That means it remains important to continue to pursue every avenue to improve the flow of patients through hospitals, and to ensure people are able to safely leave when they are fit for discharge.
“The measures discussed at SGoRR today are all helping to address these issues, but we remain indebted to the incredible efforts of staff right across the health and social care system for their commitment and hard work during this extremely challenging winter.”
Health Secretary Humza Yousaf will also visit NHS24 recruits in Glasgow on Friday, it was announced, who will form part of the 200 new staff to be brought into the service by the end of March under Scottish Government plans.
Speaking after the visit, Mr Yousaf said: “These new staff will provide a valuable contribution to the service, which has faced an extremely busy Festive period.
“The pressures of Covid-19, flu and Strep A have all contributed to heightened demand on NHS24’s services, both via 111 and through NHS Inform.”
“While waiting times to access the 111 service have sometimes been longer than usual because of the scale of demand, the overwhelming majority of callers were dealt with through that initial contact, without the need to be placed in any queues to receive a call back from clinicians.”
“We announced last week that NHS24 will recruit an extra 200 new staff by the end of March.
“The service has already brought 40 whole-time equivalent call operators, call handlers and clinical supervisors on board in the run-up to Christmas.”
“The demand for services across the wider NHS remains extremely high and these new recruits will play a vital role in helping to bolster our NHS 24 services.”
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