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Glasgow A&E doctors want major incident declared

queen elizabeth university hospitalPA Media

Doctors in Scotland’s biggest emergency department urged NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde to declare a major incident amid “grave concerns” over patient safety, the BBC understands.

Staff working in A&E at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital said the department continued to be overwhelmed.

They asked the board to call a major incident on Thursday so extra resources could be diverted to the department.

NHS GGC, which declined the move, said it was taking action to support staff.

The health board asked the public to be aware that all services were under extreme pressure and only to attend A&E if it is urgent or life threatening.

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A major incident is declared when the the health of the community is under serious threat.

Special measures would be put in place to assist the demand on the health service, such as extra resources to manage the volume of patients.

A series of messages seen by the BBC show a request from A&E consultants to declare a major incident was declined by NHS GGC on Thursday.

The messages said every space in the emergency department was occupied by patients waiting for a bed in the hospital, with no resuscitation beds and an eight-hour delay for ambulances offloading patients.

‘Substandard care’

“We are now unable to provide safe critical care,” read one of the messages.

Another read: “This is without any doubt the worst shift I’ve worked, and I’ve never been more convinced of real patient harm due to overcrowding and exit block.”

Staff said a combination of issues meant critically-ill patients received “substandard care both clinically and from [a] humanitarian perspective”.

The health board was later asked to reconsider calling a major incident, which it again declined.

A spokesperson for NHS GGC said: “We have an escalation policy that would allow us to declare any major incidents and we closely monitor the safety of our departments and patients at all times and keep this under close review.

“Our services, like the whole of Scotland, are facing major pressures including significant Covid, flu and norovirus cases and our staff are doing all they can to meet this demand.”

Scotland recorded its worst ever performance times at A&E in the week up to 18 December, with 55% of patients seen within the government target of 4 hours.

This is down 7.4% compared to the previous week.

At the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital, just 45% of patients were seen within four hours.

A total 1,821 patients spent more than 12 hours in emergency departments across Scotland.

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