Council workers support medical staff on wards at under-pressure health board

Council workers are helping medical staff on the wards as a health board’s hospitals face “exceptional” demand, officials said.

NHS Lanarkshire said staff from North and South Lanarkshire councils will help staff across its three acute hospitals which are under strain due to Omicron cases, workforce shortages caused by staff absences and general winter pressures.

Council staff have been given training and will be helping on the wards with tasks such as supporting the movement of patients and general housekeeping duties.

Ten South Lanarkshire Council workers have completed training and have already begun supporting staff on the wards at University Hospital Wishaw and University Hospital Hairmyres in East Kilbride.

A further 12 staff from North Lanarkshire Council will be deployed in University Hospital Monklands and University Hospital Wishaw next week.

NHS Lanarkshire chief executive Heather Knox said: “Our services across the whole system are experiencing more pressure that at any other point and the present demand on our hospitals is exceptional.

“The Omicron variant continues to have a negative impact on many of our health services and we continue to face staffing challenges across health services.

“We are delighted to welcome the support of council colleagues over the next month to help ensure our services can deliver effective patient care.

“We really appreciate their assistance at this time and I would also like to take this opportunity to thank our staff for their continuing hard work and dedication over this particularly busy time.”

NHS Lanarkshire has been at the highest risk level, classed as “black”, since last October amid continuing pressures.

Jackie Baird, senior nurse at University Hospital Hairmyres, said the council workers have been a big help already and given medical staff a big lift.

She said: “The staff will be providing a general role in the wards, with tasks including supporting the movement of patients and equipment, engaging with patients, supporting the management of patients and visitors through the sites and general housekeeping duties that will support departmental staff in the provision of patient care.

“All deployed staff will be suitably trained and fully supported by existing staff on site.”

A number of staff from the councils, third-sector partners and volunteers are also supporting Covid-19 testing and vaccination as well as providing health and social care support.

South Lanarkshire Council chief executive Cleland Sneddon said: “One positive aspect of Covid-19 has been the way public sector organisations have worked together to strengthen the collective effort against the pandemic.”

Des Murray, chief executive of North Lanarkshire Council, said: “Our staff have shown remarkable resilience throughout the pandemic to support other council services when needed and that willingness has already been extended to our partners over the last 18 months with many working to support the delivery of the vaccination programme.

“The proven success of that combined effort continues as a remarkable cohort of staff in facility support roles will assist in acute settings at NHS Lanarkshire sites.”

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