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Lanarkshire’s health and social care services have taken the decision to prioritise urgent care for the most vulnerable people to ensure patient safety as sustained pressure across both hospitals and community continues.


NHS Lanarkshire, North Lanarkshire Council and South Lanarkshire Council are working with Lanarkshire’s Health and Social Care Partnerships to urgently address a number of critical issues to alleviate the sustained pressure.


These pressures are because of:


· The need to recover and maintain health and social care services

· An increase in hospital admissions including Covid-19 patients

· A significant increase in complex cases within the system

· Staff shortages including staff having to self-isolate

· A massive increase in people attending A&E


This is causing disruption to, and increased waiting times for, a large number of community and hospital services.


In particular, Care at Home/Home Support services are being seriously affected by significant increases in demand, particularly in support for people with complex needs.


This means both partnerships must currently focus on continuing to provide the Care at Home/Home Support services to Lanarkshire’s most vulnerable residents.


As a result, people across Lanarkshire are being asked where possible to help with a family member or friend’s care to protect particularly vulnerable service users as well as staff.


Ross McGuffie, chief officer, Health & Social Care North Lanarkshire, said: “This is the most challenging point for staff delivering safe, effective healthcare across the whole of health and social care since the pandemic started.


“Both partnerships are working closely with each other, NHS Lanarkshire and both councils to keep patients and service users as safe as possible.


“We have recruited more than 100 new staff across the North partnership, however the level of pressure the whole health and social care system is under means that we’re still facing major challenges in how we deliver services.


“Care at Home/Home Support services are now extremely stretched across North and South Lanarkshire.


“Care at Home/Home Support have worked tirelessly through the pandemic, however staffing constraints and increasing demand means we must ensure services are delivered in as safe a way as possible for the service users and our staff.”


Marianne Hayward, interim chief officer, South Lanarkshire Health & Social Care Partnership, said: “The pressures being experienced across the whole health and social care system are exceptional.


“The current circumstances have forced us to move to critical service delivery across all areas. This means we are prioritising our services for the most vulnerable.


“This will result in discussions with service users and their families/carers about reductions in care packages where it is safe to do so and identifying support so that the most vulnerable people continue to receive critical services.


“We understand people are tired and frustrated as the pandemic continues to disrupt staffing levels and the way services are delivered. Their understanding and support for our staff has been very much welcomed and we thank them for their compassion and help.


Judith Park, director of acute services, NHS Lanarkshire, said: “The sustained pressure we are seeing across our three acute hospitals is showing no signs of easing. In fact, the pressures on our hospitals are as severe as at any time in the whole pandemic.


“Covid numbers in our hospitals are rising and this is an additional pressure while we are trying to recover services and treat patients who have planned operations.


“Pressures on our staff, and those in our two partnerships, is also a concern and they are struggling to cope with the sharp rise in demand.


“It is essential that people think about whether they really need to attend A&E which is intended for those with life-threatening injuries. There are a number of different options open to people to ensure they see the right person at the right place.”


To access the appropriate healthcare to meet their needs people should:

· use the NHS inform website – www.nhsinform.scot – to access advice on common symptoms, guidance for self-help and where to go if further medical care is needed

· contact their local GP practice during the day for an appointment or over-the-phone advice

· Call 111, day or night, when they think they need A&E but it is not life-threatening or during out of hours when they are too ill to wait for their GP practice to open, or for worsening symptoms of COVID-19.

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