One of the UK’s largest health authorities is suspending non-urgent operations due to the crisis hitting A&E departments, Sky News has learned.
NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde (NHSGGC), which serves 1.3 million patients, says it is enduring severe pressure and is to “pause non-urgent elective procedures” in a bid to prioritise emergency treatment in emergency departments and cancer care.
The health board, which is Scotland’s largest, says the move was not taken lightly and will remain under “constant review”.
A source within NHSGGC said this move is part of standard winter planning to allow the system to flex when it is under strain.
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Ms Sturgeon said: “While the NHS faces exceptional pressures across the whole country, it is important that NHS boards retain the ability to respond flexibly to local circumstances and deploy local solutions.
“A letter of guidance will be issued to boards this week making clear they can and should take steps to prioritise and protect critical and life-saving care if that is deemed necessary – accessing advice from government as required.”
Sky News contacted all of Scotland’s NHS local boards to establish whether bosses were planning to reprioritise amid the crisis.
NHS Ayrshire and Arran announced it was pausing inpatient routine elective surgery for three weeks and NHS Borders cancelled similar operations “until further notice”.
NHS Fife also confirmed it was having to postpone some elective procedures.
An NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde spokesman said: “We would like to thank staff across all of our services for their continued hard work and commitment in these challenging times. Our services, like the whole of NHS Scotland, are facing major pressures, including significant COVID, flu and norovirus cases, and our staff are doing all they can to meet this demand.
“To support our A&E departments, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde has taken the decision to pause non-urgent elective procedures to prioritise urgent treatment and cancer care.
“This decision was not taken lightly and is under constant review. We would like to apologise to patients waiting for an elective procedure, we will make every possible effort to offer them an alternative date at the first opportunity.”