A health board has been forced to prioritise urgent care for the most vulnerable people due to staff having to self-isolate, a rise in coronavirus patients and a “massive” increase in A&E attendance.

NHS Lanarkshire made the decision amid a rise in “sustained pressure”.

Earlier this week the health board cancelled planned surgeries at its three acute hospitals – University Hospital Hairmyres, University Hospital Monklands and University Hospital Wishaw.

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It said there had been an increase in hospital admissions including Covid-19 patients, a significant increase in complex cases, staff shortages including staff having to self-isolate and a “massive increase” in people attending A&E.

Care at home and home support services for people with complex needs are particularly badly hit, the health board said, and it will now focus efforts on the most vulnerable people.

NHS Lanarkshire has now appealed for people across the health board area to help with the care needs of family members and friends.

The Herald:

Hairmyers Hospital, Lanarkshire

Ross McGuffie, chief officer for health and social care in North Lanarkshire, said: “This is the most challenging point for staff delivering safe, effective healthcare across the whole of health and social care since the pandemic started.

“Both partnerships are working closely with each other, NHS Lanarkshire and both councils to keep patients and service users as safe as possible.

“We have recruited more than 100 new staff across the North partnership, however the level of pressure the whole health and social care system is under means that we’re still facing major challenges in how we deliver services.”

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Marianne Hayward, interim chief officer for South Lanarkshire health and social care partnership, said: “The pressures being experienced across the whole health and social care system are exceptional.

“The current circumstances have forced us to move to critical service delivery across all areas. This means we are prioritising our services for the most vulnerable.”