Staff cri­sis sees op­er­a­tions fall

NHS Grampian: Short­fall leads to de­lays and surgery can­cel­la­tions

The Press and Journal (Moray) - - FRONT PAGE - BY JAMES WYLLIE

A STAFFING cri­sis means the north­east’s hos­pi­tals are of­fer­ing pa­tients up to one-third fewer op­er­a­tions than they could two years ago.

Fig­ures ob­tained by The Press and Jour­nal have re­vealed a wor­ry­ing drop in op­er­at­ing theatre avail­abil­ity across each of the re­gion’s four ma­jor cen­tres in­clud­ing Dr Gray’s and Wood­end.

The health board has at­trib­uted the re­duc­tions to its on­go­ing dif­fi­cul­ties in re­cruit­ing staff able to carry out the work.

A spokes­woman said: “Safety in our the­atres is paramount and these is­sues mean we can only carry out pro­ce­dures when and where we have ap­pro­pri­ate staffing.”

Crit­ics have said the fig­ures are “not good enough” and are proof that the health board is be­ing un­der-funded.

Staff short­ages at NHS Grampian have seen some hos­pi­tals’ abil­ity to per­form op­er­a­tions slashed by al­most one-third in just two years.

Ev­ery hospi­tal in the re­gion has ex­pe­ri­enced a drop in the avail­abil­ity of the­atres and a sub­se­quent re­duc­tion in the num­ber of op­er­a­tions per­formed since 2015.

While there were min­i­mal drops at Dr Gray’s in El­gin and Royal Aberdeen Chil­dren’s Hospi­tal be­tween 2015-16 and 2017-18, there were larger de­creases else­where.

At ARI, the average weekly theatre avail­abil­ity dropped from 790.85 hours to 715.59 – down 10%.

Mean­while there was a fall of 29%, to 131.65 hours, at Wood­end Hospi­tal over the same pe­riod.

North East Labour MSP Lewis Mac­don­ald has slammed the fig­ures, say­ing they demon­strate the “real cost of un­der-staffing and un­der-fund­ing” at the health board.

But he ac­knowl­edged that some of the bur­den could be lifted by the in­tro­duc­tion of a ma­jor trauma cen­tre in the city this au­tumn.

He said: “It is not just that op­er­a­tions at ARI and Wood­end are be­ing de­layed.

“There are fewer op­er­a­tions over­all year on year.

“These fig­ures show how much peo­ple in Grampian are af­fected by un­der­staffing and un­der-fund­ing.

“Launch­ing the ma­jor trauma cen­tre at Forester­hill this Oc­to­ber can help ad­dress the re­cruit­ment chal­lenge, and it is es­sen­tial there is no de­lay.”

Alexan­der Bur­nett, Con­ser­va­tive MSP for Aberdeen­shire West, has called for govern­ment in­ter­ven­tion to help NHS Grampian over­come its staffing short­fall.

He said: “It is the peo­ple of the north-east that are suf­fer­ing – with in­creased de­lays and can­cel­la­tions of planned surgery – and it is not good enough.”

An NHS Grampian spokes­woman said: “Safety in our the­atres is paramount and these is­sues mean we can only carry out pro­ce­dures when and where we have ap­pro­pri­ate staffing.

“This has led to fewer pro­ce­dures tak­ing place.

“We con­tinue to ac­tively re­cruit to a range of po­si­tions, not just in the­atres but also pro­vid­ing pre- and post-op­er­a­tive care.

“We are also look­ing at train­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties for our ex­ist­ing theatre staff to en­sure we have a work­force with the right mix of skills.”

Health Sec­re­tary Shona Ro­bi­son said progress was be­ing made to ad­dress staffing is­sues lo­cally and across Scot­land.

She said: “I am pleased that im­ple­men­ta­tion to es­tab­lish the Scot­tish Trauma Net­work is un­der way and there has al­ready been pos­i­tive progress over the past year, with ma­jor trauma cen­tres in the north and east to be in place in the au­tumn.

“To help meet the de­mands the NHS faces, we are putting record in­vest­ment into our health ser­vice and leg­is­lat­ing to en­sure we have the right staff with the right skills in the right place.”

SLASHED: There was a fall of 29%, to 131.65 hours of op­er­a­tions per­formed, at Wood­end Hospi­tal be­tween 2015-16 and 2017-18

MSP Lewis Mac­don­ald has slammed the fig­ures

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