ARI fears this winter – MSP voices concerns NHS Grampian may declare another major incident if pressure continues to grow

Aberdeen Royal Infirmary

AN MSP has urged the Scottish Government to address staffing pressures, bed blocking and ambulance stacking at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary amid concerns a major incident may be declared at the hospital again this winter.

In parliament, North East MSP Tess White voiced fears that the “wheels are already off the bus” during the health secretary’s update on winter planning for the NHS.

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The Scottish Conservative shadow public health minister wants more resources to be allocated to the Aberdeen hospital and for lessons to be learned after a major incident was declared last winter.

In response, health secretary Michael Matheson dismissed the concerns, saying ARI was facing “similar pressures” to the rest of Scotland. 

In February, the announcement was declared after ARI experienced unprecedented pressure which resulted in 16 ambulances waiting outside to drop patients off.

An NHS review into the crisis, published six months later, said the hospital didn’t have enough beds and mattresses to accommodate extra patients.

It found a number of other issues, such as just one nurse responding to a call for staff.

In her question to the health secretary, Ms White asked: “In February this year, Aberdeen Royal Infirmary declared a major incident due to a perfect storm of staffing pressures, bed blocking and ambulance stacking. Other hospitals are on the brink of doing the same.

“The reality is the healthcare system is already at breaking point, even before the pressures of winter put greater strain on services and staff whose morale is rock bottom and are at breaking point.

“How can the SNP Government expect things to be different this time around when the wheels are already off the bus?”

In response, Mr Matheson said: “Some of the challenges and pressures faced in Grampian are similar to the pressures that our NHS across the whole of Scotland is facing.

“The member made particular reference on the pressures on accident and emergency in Grampian but if we look at the data it has outperformed all accident and emergency provision across the UK.

“I know for those who go to A&E and don’t receive the service they would wish to that’s cold comfort to them.”

Ms White later said: “Last winter was a horrifying period for all the hardworking staff at ARI who were left operating under intolerable strain due to the dire workforce planning of the SNP Government.

“Michael Matheson’s extremely dismissive response on the challenges faced at ARI will provide little comfort to the staff who face working round the clock because they fear same issues will occur again this winter.

“NHS Grampian cannot be on life support again this winter and lessons must be learned from the major incident review.

“Lives are being put at severe risk if the SNP Government doesn’t act on these warnings as a matter of urgency to prevent the pressure on ARI from spiralling out of control again.”

Tess White’s question to health secretary Michael Matheson can be found at 15:37:00 at:

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