Health services are still under extreme pressure

Extreme pressures are currently challenging health and social care systems across Dumfries and Galloway.

Monday, 18th October 2021, 9:48 am
Julie White (inset) said extreme pressures are challenging health and social care systems.

Urgent meetings have been taking place among clinical and care managers, as they work to address both the pressing short-term issues and the prospect of very serious challenges heading into the winter months.

In a bid to try and manage the current pressures, which include increased demand and staffing shortages exacerbated by the pandemic, a decision has been made to scale back elective clinical procedures at Dumfries and Galloway Royal Infirmary over the next two weeks. However, urgent and cancer procedures will go ahead.

The news comes as Dumfries and Galloway Health and Social Care Partnership Chief Officer Julie White delivered a sober message to its incredibly hard working and resilient staff and volunteers.

Julie said: “It’s been an incredibly difficult 18 months for everyone, where we’ve all felt the impact of Covid-19 in just about every aspect of our lives. Right now, significant pressures are facing our Health and Social Care Partnership as we head into the most challenging winter period ever faced.

“For a number of years the health and social care partnership has faced the dual challenge of increasing demand against the backdrop of difficulties around recruitment to the workforce.

“The pandemic has only served to accelerate this problem. Many people have avoided seeking help because of Covid, have been confronted with delays, or have been isolating at home – becoming weaker or more frail.

“Recruitment remains a challenge but innovative approaches are being driven forward which do provide hope.

“However, right now we’re in a position where problems stored up during the pandemic are really biting.

“Staff across the whole of the health and social care system are incredibly stretched and we’re desperately short on the care staff who can help support people in the familiarity of their own home.

“I was incredibly heartened to see the announcement that pay for care at home staff is set to increase. These carers are the largely unsung heroes of our communities.

“We are currently in the process of developing a far-reaching recruitment aimed at significantly increasing care at home capacity.

“However, in the short term, we face real challenges providing care and support to our population in a system that has been radically changed by the pandemic.”

A request is being made for people to understand the enormity of the challenge facing the health and social care system and why difficult decisions have been taken, including maximising capacity in cottage hospitals and placing people in alternative NHS and care facilities while awaiting support in their own home.

Julie added: “I have never seen health and social care systems in our region under so much pressure and unfortunately this may continue for some time to come.

“We really want everyone to have an insight and understanding as to just how challenging things have become.”

Anyone requiring help should pursue the most appropriate means of help – be that a community pharmacist, the NHS Inform website, their GP practice, NHS 24 on 111 or 999 in an emergency.