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NHS Fife has taken the difficult decision postpone all non-urgent surgical procedures and some outpatient appointments to help reduce the unprecedented pressures on healthcare provision in the Kingdom and protect urgent care and cancer services.

Over the recent months healthcare services in Fife have come under increasing strain due to a sustained and significant rise in the number of patients requiring care for both Covid-related and non-Covid related conditions.

Presentations to the Emergency Department at the Victoria Hospital over the summer months have far exceeded what would be expected during the busy winter months, with the service recording five of its six highest daily attendances since records began.  

With the prevalence of Covid and community transmission remaining high it is likely to lead to a further increase in the number of hospitalisations over the coming weeks, and it is necessary to act now to help safeguard urgent care and cancer services.

NHS Fife is taking the following steps: 

  • Postpone all non-urgent surgical procedures – emergency procedures, trauma and cancer procedures will continue including individuals that require surgery within 12 weeks
  • Postpone some non-urgent outpatient appointments patients affected will be contacted directly to advise of the postponement. Those who are not contacted should attend their appointment as arranged.
  • Increased hospital footprint for Covid patient care – clinical areas will be redefined and utilised to support the care of patients with Covid and optimise our clinical space.
  • Visiting restrictions to continue – limited to one individual.
  • Staff redeployment programme – to areas of clinical priority.
  • Patient Complaints - will continue to be acknowledged and registered, however compliant investigation and formal responses will be paused at this time

Significant efforts are also ongoing to increase staffing levels across the healthcare system, with more than 150 qualified graduates being recruited and taking up clinical roles across Fife in the coming weeks. Furthermore, we are introducing top-up / fast track training to enable registered nurses no longer working in clinical settings to be redeployed to support wards.

Margo McGurk, Director of Finance and Deputy Chief Executive of NHS Fife, said:

“The pressure on healthcare services in Fife at present is unlike anything we have experienced during our response to the pandemic. Current projections are suggesting that this unprecedent demand will continue and increase still further, it was therefore vital that we had to act now and take the difficult decision to postpone routine procedures to protect our urgent care and cancer services. This decision was not taken lightly; our staff have worked tirelessly to try and avoid having to take this action.

“Patient safety is our single biggest priority, and the current rates of community transmission of Covid are adding to the already significant strain on all healthcare services. By postponing some clinical services will enable staff working in these areas to support their colleagues in emergency care, trauma, and cancer services to ensure those who are most unwell receive the vital care they need. 

“We know that this decision will have a direct impact on our patients, some of whom will have already waited a considerable period of time for treatment, and we sincerely apologise for the additional anxiety this will cause. Our hope is that this postponement will be brief, and we can resume any services stepped down as soon as it is safe to do so.

“Across the whole healthcare system in Fife, whether in our communities or in our hospitals, healthcare staff are working exceptionally hard to maintain high standards of patient care, despite the significant pressures we are seeing at present.

“At times, and particularly of late, the demand on healthcare services has been relentless. Many of our staff are exhausted, having worked through the most challenging of circumstance for the last 18 months and we are doing all we can to provide them with the necessary support to ensure their own health and wellbeing.

“Our ask of the people of Fife is to continue to do their bit to support healthcare staff and services. We need to ask the public to use our emergency services, especially our accident and emergency department appropriately. The public should also continue to play their part in helping to reduce Covid rates in our communities, and in turn reduce the number of people requiring treatment for the virus in our hospitals.

“That means getting fully vaccinated against Covid, and we have a range of drop-in clinics available across the Kingdom. It is also equally important that anyone with even very mild symptoms of Covid isolates immediately and books a test at one of the many sites in Fife. 

“Taking these steps will not only reduce community transmission and result in fewer people becoming unwell, but it will also reduce the number of those requiring care in our hospitals and help alleviate the significant strain on healthcare services across Fife.” 

 

Audio

Director of Finance and Deputy Chief Executive, Margo McGurk, discusses the pressures on healthcare in Fife and the short-term measures taken to protect services - [DOWNLOAD] 

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