Patients urged to avoid struggling Glasgow A&E units unless condition is life-threatening

Patients in the Glasgow area have been urged to avoid accident and emergency (A&E) departments unless their condition is life-threatening.

NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde (NHSGGC) said due to the impact of rising Omicron cases, staff are struggling to cope with demand and services are operating well above normal capacity.

The health board said the cause is “multi-factorial” and includes staff absences, a rise in Covid cases and people delaying treatment over the festive period.

Dr Scott Davidson, deputy medical director for acute services at NHSGGC, said A&E units are seeing a “large number” of people with symptoms that could be managed by speaking with a GP or a local pharmacy.

He said the demand has meant staff are facing “huge challenges” to treat patients safely and as quickly as possible.

The health board has urged patients to call NHS24 on 111 to be directed to the most appropriate service before attending A&E, unless their condition is “very urgent” or “life-threatening”.

Dr Davidson said: “There are other services geared up and ready to see and treat you.

“If you’ve had a slip, trip or fall, we have numerous minor injuries units (MIUs) across NHSGGC which can look after you, including if you’ve broken a limb.

“More information on MIUs, what they can treat and how to access one can be found on the NHSGGC website.

“GP practices across Greater Glasgow and Clyde are operating normal hours, and community pharmacies are also open to help you get the treatment you need.”

Scottish Labour deputy leader Jackie Baillie said: “This is incredibly worrying news and everything possible must be done to support NHSGGC staff as they continue to work under immense pressure.

“The fact of the matter is that the SNP’s complete failure to support A&E departments, have adequate numbers of health and social care staff, and deal with delayed discharge is now putting lives at risk.

“There are significant reported delays in getting through to NHS24, with people waiting over an hour for calls to be answered.”

She called on Health Secretary Humza Yousaf to “act to bring this situation under control immediately”.

Scottish Conservative health spokesman Dr Sandesh Gulhane said: “This is damning evidence that the SNP Government failed to prepare our health service for the toughest winter they have ever faced.

“My colleagues on the front line are beyond breaking point and have suffered due to Humza Yousaf’s inaction and lack of planning ahead of the winter period.

“Humza Yousaf must guarantee no patient will be turned away from A&E if they do require urgent care and get on top of the crisis that is continuing to engulf all areas of our health service right now.”

The health board appeal comes at Mr Yousaf said the NHS faces a “perfect storm” over the winter period, with Omicron cases now at the worst case scenario level outlined in a Scottish Government paper when the coronavirus variant emerged late last year.

The Government paper, published in December, warned the worst case scenario would see new infections reported each day hit between 7,500 and 25,000.

Earlier this week Scotland recorded a record high number of cases for the pandemic, with 20,217 infections reported in just one day – with more than a third (34.9%) of all cases coming back positive.

Copyright (c) PA Media Ltd. 2022, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) PA.