A REAL pressure is now being experienced by healthcare systems in Dumfries and Galloway – despite the decline in COVID-19 cases.
As lockdown eases, and people are becoming more mobile and less sheltered, a significant volume of health concerns which require attention are coming to light.
Carole Morton is General Manager for Acute and Diagnostics, and she said: “Our acute hospitals, in particular, are currently under real pressure.
“Although you might think that the drop in COVID cases would help our position, the moves out of lockdown have been accompanied by a really notable increase in referrals and admissions to hospital.
“There are likely a number of reasons for this, beyond just what you might see when people are out and about, being more active.
“People who maybe haven’t left their homes very much over the last year are now starting to emerge. Immunity against the likes of things like tummy bugs can therefore be lowered, and we’re starting to see a few cases of those.
“It’s also that people, especially older people, may have become physically deconditioned through lack of activity, and this can obviously result in issues.
“Another significant concern is that people are only now coming forward with issues which they’ve been sitting on for some time, perhaps cautious due to COVID or not wanting to impose on the system.
“Aside from the fact that we’d always want people to come forward with concerns at the earliest opportunity, a consequence of this is that we’re now seeing quite a high volume of people now needing help at the same time.
“When you couple this with the fact that we’ve got numbers of people still awaiting non-urgent treatment which has been impacted and delayed by the need to manage COVID risks, we’ve got a system where our hospitals are facing significant pressure.
“It’s also worth noting that this isn’t an increase in demand that’s likely to pass very quickly. This could be the situation that we’re in over several weeks, as we continue to be presented with referrals and admissions of patients who really need our help.”
Advice is being issued that people should come forward for assistance if they have a concern around any healthcare issue. And continued patience is being requested from those people who are waiting to be seen on non-urgent matters, and an understanding that the reduction in COVID cases does not mean an immediate return to normal service.
Jeff Ace is Chief Executive of NHS Dumfries and Galloway.
Mr Ace said: “COVID-19 cases in Dumfries and Galloway have reduced significantly from where they were at the start of the year, and the efforts made by everyone together with the vaccination programme have made a real difference.
“However, we’re still going to be living with COVID for some time, and likely with ongoing restrictions, and there are always going to be unknowns, and concerns around the dangers posed by variants.
“We’ll also be dealing with the indirect effects of COVID for some time, helping those people who need immediate attention and working to recover our systems and help those people whose treatment and support has been impacted and delayed as a result of the coronavirus.
“We’re hugely grateful for all the efforts and sacrifices that people have made, and we would ask everyone to continue working with us and to appreciate that some of the biggest impacts of COVID on our health and social care systems are only just now starting to be felt.”