News

Help for NHS during most difficult winter

Published: 11 Jan 2022 11:46

Measures to support remote treatment.

New remote monitoring tools to support people with Covid to stay safely at home, and free up hospital beds are among a range of steps being put in place to support the health and care workforce and maximise capacity.

Measures include £500,000 to fund 25,000 remote monitoring kits, including additional pulse oximeters, and a dedicated team which will support the early identification of patients who would benefit from antivirals treatments and get these started as soon as possible. This will free up beds in acute hospitals. 

COVID admissions are rising at a rate 45% faster than they did last winter, and this combined with existing winter pressures is creating significant demand on hospitals. A large spike in staff absence relating to COVID is also significantly impacting NHS service provision.

In addition to the investment in remote monitoring, the Scottish Government will also expand existing programmes, including Hospital at Home, Outpatient Parenteral Antimicrobial Therapy (OPAT) services for managing infections and Community Respiratory pathways.  These services allow patients to be treated in their own home and to receive the relevant treatment without admission to hospital.

Health Secretary Humza Yousaf said:

“The next few weeks will probably be amongst the most difficult our NHS has ever faced in its 73 year existence. We are facing pressure on a number of fronts.

“Modelling suggests that infections and associated staff absences due to the coronavirus could peak by mid-January. Treating more people who previously may have been admitted to hospital at home with anti-virals and suitable support is essential to free up capacity in our hospitals.

“We know Discharge Without Delay has made a significant impact in some parts of the country and rolling it out to all health boards will make a major difference. Local contingency plans are in place to focus on the redeployment of available clinical and support services staff to essential services. 

“All of this  builds on work already underway as part of our £300 million investment in health and care services as part of winter preparations, to help maximise capacity, support the wellbeing of our fantastic health and care staff, support flow through the system and improve outcomes.”

Background

 Data published on 5 January 2022 covering the preceding week (w/e 4 January 2022 shows that on  average 5,482 NHS staff per day, or 38,373 absences over the week, were recorded absent for reasons related to coronavirus. 

This includes having confirmed COVID-19, precautionary symptomatic isolation, voluntary staff self-isolation, coronavirus related caring responsibilities and staff contacted by test and protect tracers and required to isolate.

There was a 65% increase in the total coronavirus absence compared to the previous week (w/e 28th December 2021).

The NHS is having to cope with a significantly faster rate of increase in COVID hospitalisations this year compared to last January. Between Christmas Day and January 10th the number of patients in hospital with recently confirmed Covid increased by 905, 45% faster than over the same period last winter when it increased by 625.

The measures being taken forward over the next few days and weeks will cover patients affected by COVID-19, but will also cover a range of other conditions and illnesses such as pneumonia, congestive cardiac failure, gastroenteritis, cellulitis, sepsis, dementia and related complications, complex falls, anaemia, influenza exacerbations of COPD and asthma.

The winter pressures funding announced in October is a substantial investment that aims to bolster recruitment amongst other measures. COVID-19 financial support for adult social care providers will exist alongside these measures to support the social care sector throughout the winter.