Covid Scotland: Self-isolation rules leave Edinburgh' Royal Infirmary with worst staff shortages of crisis

Staff having to self-isolate has made workforce shortages at Edinburgh’s Royal Infirmary worse than at any time during the Covid crisis, Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie claimed.

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He said the impact of “spiralling self-isolation” was putting health care services at risk and he called for urgent changes in the rules to tackle the problem.

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Mr Rennie said staff working at the Royal Infirmary told him that absences, many linked to self-isolation, were heaping pressure on the hospital and staff.

Edinburgh's Royal Infirmary has serious staff shortages

And he said their concerns echoed reports from hospitals across the country. Raigmore Hospital in Inverness, Aberdeen Royal Infirmary and Dr Gray’s Hospital in Elgin have all issued a “code black” status alert in recent days, resulting in a reduction of services offered.

Mr Rennie said: "ERI staff tell me that workforce shortages are worse now than at any other point in the crisis. They say it is piling pressure on the hospital and remaining staff.

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“Its the self-isolation that's behind this, not Covid-driven patient demand.

"There is still some way still to go until the vaccine gives us all more security. But the pressure on essential services is reaching a crisis point now and they are seizing up.

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"The spiralling self-isolation rates are a real danger to the wider health service and beyond.

“The First Minister cannot come to parliament on Tuesday with more plans to make plans. This isn’t a time for more pondering. We need concrete actions and urgent changes around the rules and expectations for self-isolation, especially for these key workers, to make sure Scotland has a functioning healthcare system.”

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Jacquie Campbell, NHS Lothian’s chief officer of acute services, said: “Covid-19 is very prevalent in the community at the moment and this unfortunately translates to higher numbers of Covid-positive patients within our hospitals. We are also experiencing staff absences due to the need to self-isolate if identified as a close contact of a positive Covid case. These twin pressures mean we must focus our services on the most urgent cases."

She said people should call 111 before arriving at emergency departments in all cases, except those that are life threatening.

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“We strongly advise everyone who can, to get vaccinated with both doses. Our drop-in clinics make this easier than ever and details of all available clinics are on our website.”

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