Coronavirus (COVID-19) advice

Health and Social Care Update

Last reviewed 16 September 2021

Urgent care is currently being prioritised across acute and community-based health and social care in Lanarkshire. This Q&A provides more details.

What kind of pressures are NHS Lanarkshire, councils and partnerships facing?

NHS Lanarkshire, South Lanarkshire Council and North Lanarkshire Council are working with Lanarkshire’s health and social care partnerships to urgently address a number of critical issues to alleviate the sustained pressure on services.

These pressures are because of:

  • The need to recover and maintain health and social care services
  • An increase in hospital admissions including Covid-19 patients
  • A significant increase in complex cases within the system
  • Staff shortages including staff having to self-isolate
  • A massive increase in people attending A&E

What does this mean for me/my loved one?

Lanarkshire’s health and social care services have had to take the decision to temporarily prioritise urgent care for the most vulnerable people.

This will ensure patient safety as sustained pressure across both hospitals and community continues.

People across Lanarkshire are being asked, where possible, to help with a family member or friend’s care to protect particularly vulnerable service users as well as staff.

We will be having discussions with service users and their families/carers about their support packages and possibly changing these where it is safe to do so.

We will also be identifying support so that the most vulnerable people continue to receive critical services.

What is happening to South Lanarkshire’s Care at Home services?

Care at Home/Home Support services are now extremely stretched across South and North Lanarkshire.

They are being seriously affected by significant increases in demand, particularly in support for people with complex needs.

This means both partnerships must currently focus on continuing to provide these services to Lanarkshire’s most vulnerable residents.

Can people who are no longer receiving the service stay in hospital instead?

The sustained pressure NHS Lanarkshire is seeing across its three acute hospitals is showing no signs of easing. In fact, the pressures on hospitals are as severe as at any time in the whole pandemic.

Covid numbers in hospitals are also rising and this is an additional pressure while NHS Lanarkshire works to recover services and treat patients who have planned operations.

It’s important that people don’t attend hospital unless they really have to, as part of the collective effort to minimise any potential exposure to Covid-19 and create vital capacity.

Is this due to a lack of staff?

This is the most challenging point since the pandemic started for staff delivering safe, effective healthcare across the whole of health and social care.

South Lanarkshire’s Care at Home service has worked tirelessly through the pandemic. However, staffing constraints and increasing demand mean we must ensure services are delivered in as safe a way as possible for the service users and our staff.

This is compounded by significant numbers of staff having to self-isolate.

How can I help?

It is essential that people think about whether they really need to attend hospital Emergency Departments, which are intended for those with life-threatening injuries.

To access the appropriate healthcare to meet their needs people should:

  • use the NHS inform website – www.nhsinform.scot – to access advice on common symptoms, guidance for self-help and where to go if further medical care is needed
  • contact their local GP practice during the day for an appointment or over-the-phone advice
  • Call 111, day or night, when they think they need to attend an Emergency Department but it is not life-threatening, during out of hours when they are too ill to wait for their GP practice to open, or for worsening symptoms of Covid-19.

In addition, at the start of the pandemic many families and friends stepped up to offer support for your loved ones, easing the pressures then being faced in the health and social care sector. This type of support would once again be appreciated at this time of further pressure on these vital services.