A new report published today by Public Health Scotland has offered new insights into the experience of critical care units during the pandemic, showing the significant strain staff had to deal with.
The Audit of Critical Care in NHS Scotland found that during the pandemic:
- Some units were looking after three times their baseline capacity without access to additional ICU trained staff.
- Staff with ICU experience were stretched, and other staff had to regularly supplement these units without the relevant expertise.
- Wearing PPE for prolonged periods caused physical strain, and the necessity for frequent end-of-life care, often without access to in-person family visiting caused a “significant psychological burden”.
- Hospitals serving deprived areas managed a disproportionate number of cases.
Health Boards highlighted staffing shortages in some areas with difficulty in filling healthcare staff posts. The report also notes that delayed discharges continue to be challenging, with almost half of patients delayed more than 4 hours. This is very similar to previous years.
Commenting, Scottish Liberal Democrat health spokesperson Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP said:
“Hospitals and health care services have been scarred by the pandemic, and this new report gives a glimpse of the strains staff have had to deal with.
“These units were on a rickety footing before the pandemic. Issues like delayed discharges and staffing shortages have been longstanding problems, all but untouched after 14 years of SNP mismanagement and distraction. This undoubtedly made life much harder for health professionals when they had to deal with Covid-19 as well.
“Staff are exhausted, and many feel disillusioned. The mental health impacts will be long lasting. Services need more resources and staff to reduce workloads on the frontline. An NHS recovery needs the full focus of government, with no more distraction.”