By Lucy Ashton
Dame Jackie Baillie has warned that critical care is “at breaking point” as a scathing new report reveals the huge pressure on wards.
An audit of critical care in Scotland in 2022 highlighted soaring levels of delayed discharge and high staff vacancies as a source of pressure on services.
The Royal Alexandra Hospital, where patients from Dumbarton, the Vale of Leven, Helensburgh and Lomond attend, was said to be experiencing “very high” levels of hospital occupancy rates and delayed discharges, according to the report.
It went on to describe how this had impacted on hospital flow including discharges from critical care which includes both intensive care units (ICU) and high dependency units (HDU).
However a new hospital-wide unscheduled care continuous flow model has recently been implemented which is aimed at preventing and/or mitigating further night-time discharges from critical care.
At the RAH in Paisley, 14.3 percent of discharges from ICU were night-time discharges. The Scotland-wide average is 7.5 percent.
Night-time discharges happen between 10pm and 8am and are strongly associated with both in-hospital mortality and ICU readmission.
They are forced early discharges to accommodate another patient or discharges which have been unable to take place earlier in the day due to the pressure on wards. According to the report, they may be poorly planned and/or communicated.
Admissions to critical care at the RAH have increased significantly in the past decade from 359 in 2013 to 1349 in 2022.
The Audit Group also identified a gap of 22.4 percent WTE nursing positions across Scottish ICUs and 24.4 per cent across Scottish HDUs due to a combination of unfilled vacancies and staff sickness.
Dumbarton constituency MSP, Jackie Baillie, said: “This damning report exposes the toll the SNP’s NHS crisis is taking on critical care in Scotland.
“Critical care wards are at breaking point because of acute staffing shortages and spiralling levels of delayed discharge.
“Patients attending at the Royal Alexandra Hospital, including my constituents, are some of the worst affected by delayed discharge with the hospital under severe pressure.
“It is really worrying that a high percentage of discharge from critical care is taking place at night which is dangerous to patients and can lead to them presenting again at hospital, putting more pressure on wards which are already stretched.
“The patients and staff here are being badly let down by this incompetent SNP government.
“Lives are on the line – the SNP must put an end to this chaos by getting delayed discharge under control and supporting our fantastic NHS staff.”