TWO further Scottish hospitals have been in a rare ‘Code Black’ status as a result of rising pressures during the third wave of Covid.
Officials at NHS Grampian have confirmed that Aberdeen Royal Infirmary and Dr Gray’s Hospital in Elgin have both been at capacity in recent days.
The health board is now being forced to cancel procedures and appointments to free up staff working on urgent and emergency care.
They say that a steady increase in positive cases requiring hospital care, coupled with the increase in staff absences due to self-isolation and school holidays, has led to the decision.
It comes after Raigmore Hospital in Inverness announced the same alert on Tuesday.
Professor Nick Fluck, medical director at NHS Grampian said: “This is a dynamic situation, subject to change throughout each day.
“I can confirm that both Aberdeen Royal Infirmary and Dr Gray’s Hospital have been at Black status (i.e. at capacity) in recent days.
“Choosing to cancel procedures or appointments is never a decision we take lightly; however it is our only option if we are to relieve some of the pressure and allow staff to concentrate on the most urgent and emergency care.”
Code black means a hospital is at capacity with no available beds for new admissions from A&E.
It is declared by the hospital’s general bed manager, who then relays this to the local ambulance service and updates local healthcare services such as GPs and district nursing teams.
Professor Caroline Hiscox the health board’s chief executive, added: “While we have not moved into full Civil Contingency mode, as we did at the start of the pandemic, we have ‘stood up’ certain measures to allow us to closely monitor activity right across the region.
“This allows us to quickly identify particular stress points and take action to relieve them. I cannot thank our staff enough for the work they are undertaking, especially in light of the very difficult experience of the last 16 months.”
Dr June Brown, executive nurse director, said: “The impact of the third wave is being felt at every level of healthcare.
“Our GP colleagues and those working in community hospitals are also working at capacity.
“Our close working relationship with the three local Health & Social Care Partnerships has enabled us to support each other and take the right decisions for healthcare as a whole in Grampian.”
READ MORE: What does code black mean for hospitals?
Latest figures today showed Scotland has recorded five deaths of coronavirus patients in the past 24 hours and 3,799 new cases, according to the latest data.
The death toll under this daily measure – of people who first tested positive for the virus within the previous 28 days – is now 7,740.
Figures published by the Scottish Government indicate the daily test positivity rate is 10.0%, down from 10.2% the previous day.
A total of 387 people were in hospital on Tuesday with recently confirmed Covid-19, up 41 in 24 hours, with 34 patients in intensive care, up two.
So far, 3,890,176 people have received the first dose of a Covid-19 vaccination and 2,808,902 have received their second dose.
Professor Fluck added: “I know it is distressing for people to have procedures or appointments postponed, sometimes at very short notice. I apologise to anyone who has been affected by this.
“We will work to reschedule these, but we cannot offer any guarantees at present about when this might happen. If you are accessing any healthcare services, please be aware delays are likely.
“I would also make a personal plea to the public to make sure they go to the right place for advice and treatment. Community services like pharmacists, optometrists, and dentists, or self-care following guidance available on the NHS Inform website, may be more appropriate.
Professor Hiscox said: “I know people desperately want a return to normal and to have all their healthcare needs met, not just those related to COVID-19. I want that too. We have had such support from people in the north-east since the pandemic began and we are asking for it again.”
Elsewhere, health chiefs at NHS Lanarkshire are considering whether to “pull back” on elective care amid rising Covid cases and workforce pressures.
In a statement, Heather Knox, the health board’s chief executive, said the senior management team would hold a Gold Command meeting tomorrow to consider their options.
The number of people in hospital in Lanarkshire with recently diagnosed Covid has more than doubled over the past two weeks, to 45, including six in intensive care.
Rising case numbers across Scotland as a whole are also leading to more staff having to self-isolate, while A&E departments are also struggling with an return to pre-pandemic attendance levels complicated by higher numbers of complex cases requiring admission than would normally be seen in summer.