Nicola Sturgeon has insisted that “every possible step” is being taken to help Scotland’s beleaguered NHS.

The First Minister was speaking after holding a second meeting of the Scottish Government’s resilience committee (SGoRR). 

However, despite the SNP leader’s assurances, there was some anxiety from health experts over the £8 million plan to ease bed blocking in hospitals. 
The staggering rate of delayed discharge is partly responsible for the backlog and long waits in A&E departments. 

Earlier this week, Health Secretary Humza Yousaf said the Scottish Government and Cosla had identified 300 interim beds that could be used to help alleviate pressures. 

READ MORE: Yousaf: 300 extra care home beds to ease NHS pressure

In a joint statement, the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh (RCPE) and British Geriatric Society (BGS) Scotland, said they had questions about how far the money offered by ministers would go in a care sector already struggling with significant staff shortages. 

Andrew Elder, president of the RCPE, said they appreciated that ministers were focussing on the “exit block.”

“However, our college has a number of concerns about the announcement of an extra 300 interim care beds, and we are asking for further clarity and assurances from ministers.

“We question whether the funding announced will deliver as many interim care home places as envisaged, not least as the staffing pressures in the social care sector are so extreme that it may be almost impossible for care providers to recruit the extra staff they will require.”

READ MORE: 'Unnecessary attendances' hides real causes of A&E gridlock

Rowan Wallace, chair of BGS Scotland, welcomed the extra funding but said they feared it may simply move problems "into other areas.”

“Moving older people into care homes may ease pressures in the very short term but there are many more people currently in need of social care and community-based rehabilitation services than places available.

“We would urge Scottish Government to include experts in the care of older people in policy planning. This may feel like a new crisis but the issues are longstanding.”


Data from Public Health Scotland showed that, by November, delayed discharge levels had hit a new record, with an average of 1,950 beds each day being occupied by a patient who was medically fit to leave the hospital - equivalent to 14% of NHS beds. 

With fewer beds available elsewhere in the hospital, patients arriving in A&E are waiting longer.

Figures published last week revealed that more than 2,500 people waited over half a day to be seen in A&E in the last week of 2022, and almost 5,000 waited more than eight hours.

They were the worst figures since comparable records began in early 2015. 

In the week ending January 1, PHS reported 10,866 waited longer than the four-hour target, up from 10,654 the previous week. 

READ MORE: Waiting times Scotland: Thousands wait half a day in A&E

Speaking after the SGoRR meeting - which was also attended by Mr Yousaf, John Swinney, the chief medical officer and NHS representatives  - Ms Sturgeon said: “It is clear that pressure on NHS and social care continues to be very high, and that we need to maintain our emphasis on doing everything we can to help the service through the remainder of the winter.

“The measures set out by the Health Secretary earlier in the week will help to address some of the main issues – easing delayed discharge by purchasing additional care beds for those who are fit to leave hospital, and ensuring adequate resource is in place for NHS 24.

“The focus of today’s meeting was to ensure that we keep pushing ahead with every possible step to support our tremendous health and social care staff, and ensure the people of Scotland continue to get the care and treatment they need.

“I would like to thank every single person working in the NHS and care system for the tremendous contribution they are making.”