Highlands and Islands MSP, Edward Mountain today called on the Scottish Government to provide temporary accommodation to increase bed capacity at Raigmore Hospital.
Edward Mountain made the request to the Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport during a Ministerial Statement on the remobilisation of the NHS.
Edward Mountain asked: “Before the pandemic there were just enough beds in Raigmore - now there aren’t. Given that this is one of the main factors limiting the amount of operations that can be carried out, will the Cabinet Secretary agree to commit to providing additional temporary accommodation to allow the backlog of in-hospital treatments and operations to be carried out in the Highlands?
The Cabinet Secretary replied: “Additional accommodation isn’t just going to the nearest Premier Inn and opening it up and buying all the bed spaces. We are talking about accommodation that needs to be clinically safe for patients and staff to work in. So that’s a really important caveat to put in place before I respond to Mr Mountain’s question.
“Every single health board is looking at what they can do to maximise the space that they have, the use of their theatres, bearing in mind that they need to take very necessary infection prevention and control measures, one of which is distancing and that is affecting Raigmore as well as other hospitals, in terms of spaces between beds and so on. But NHS Highland is actively looking at what more can it do in order to increase the number of patients that it can see and treat. But at the same time, remembering that it has other demands in front of it, not least of which is the work to continue to keep the virus under control and the important work to allow staff time to recover before we ask them to do even more than we have asked them to do up until now.”
Following the ministerial statement Edward Mountain MSP said:
“I am disappointed that the Cabinet Secretary was unwilling to give a commitment today that additional temporary accommodation would be provided to increase bed spaces at Raigmore Hospital.
In recent years we have seen the construction of mobile operating theatres at Raigmore to reduce waiting lists and surely there is scope to do similar with patient accommodation too.
NHS Highland needs support from the Scottish Government if it is too reduce the treatment backlog and, going by the Cabinet Secretary’s answer today, I fear that support is lacking. Patients deserve better.”