A new capacity crisis has engulfed the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh after staff at the city’s main hospital claimed they were left with no beds for patients because of unprecedented demand.
NHS Lothian admitted “our acute hospitals are currently under exceptional pressure” saying it was in the face of the recent red alert extreme weather warnings and the ongoing delayed discharge crisis in the Capital.
An insider told the Evening News: “There are no beds free”. It was unclear if anyone had been turned away from the facility.
Health chiefs insisted the situation was fluid and can change from day to day with the possibility of extra capacity being created. However, they acknowledge that problems exist with the provision of care packages leading to patients remaining on wards. Unison branch chair Tom Waterson said the flagship hospital which opened at a 900-bed site in Little France in 2003 was “too small”.
He added: “Obviously this delays patients being admitted to hospital because there’s no beds, which in turn puts extra pressure on staff in the acute setting and the community to find places for patients. Unison has always maintained that the Royal Infirmary is too small, the bed size was based on cost as opposed to care.
“We accept that there was unprecedented weather last week which stopped people being discharged from hospital but didn’t stop the amount of patients having to be admitted.”
Jacquie Campbell, Chief Officer of Acute Services, NHS Lothian said: “In the aftermath of the last week’s severe weather our acute hospitals are currently under exceptional pressure with high numbers of people attending our Emergency Departments and also high numbers of patients whose discharge has been delayed.
“We are working hard with our colleagues in Lothian’s four Health and Social Care Partnerships to discharge those patients who are well enough to leave The Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh, the Western General Hospital and St John’s Hospital, but who cannot be discharged safely until the necessary support for them is in place either at home or in a Community Hospital or in a care or nursing home.
“If you are unwell and it is not an emergency there are a wide range of NHS services available to provide you with treatment and care.”
Shadow health secretary Miles Briggs said: “The reason that RIE has run out of beds is because SNP Ministers have failed to deal with delayed discharge in NHS Lothian.”