January 13th, 2022
GPs in NHS Lanarkshire have suspended some services so they can prioritise the most urgent care due to ongoing pressure from the Covid pandemic.
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These cases include people with respiratory or Covid-19 symptoms or those who believe they have symptoms of cancer.
The provision of other services will depend on practices' circumstances.
Leading clinician Dr Linda Findlay said the move would "reduce pressure" across the system.
All the health board's GP practices will move to the "managed suspension of services" for the next four weeks.
It comes as 7,606 further cases of Covid-19 were reported across Scotland. Health officials believe the number may be an underestimate because of delays in reporting results and also changes in the rules on testing.
Rising Covid pressure
Health care across the country has been hit further in recent weeks by rising hospital admissions and high staff absences.
In the week up to 11 January, more than 50,000 NHS staff absences for Covid reasons were recorded, an increase of 31% on the previous week.
NHS Covid-related absences are now at their highest level since April 2020.
NHS Lanarkshire moved to the "highest risk level" in October as its three hospitals were at maximum capacity.
The health board is currently being assisted by 32 military personnel who will be in post for four weeks.
However, the reduction of community services such as treatment rooms and district nurses means GPs are not able to deliver all services.
Call for 'level five' escalation
Scottish Conservative's health spokesperson Dr Sandesh Gulhane, who is a practising GP, said patients were being "shunted" from one part of the health service to another, and called for further action.
He said: "This decision by NHS Lanarkshire is deeply worrying for patients and further proof of the Health Secretary's lack of a coherent plan to deal with the huge pressures on Scotland's health service.
"I'm calling on NHS Lanarkshire Health Board to be put on level five, the highest level of supervision by the Scottish government, until this crisis is resolved."
Scottish Labour's health spokesperson Jackie Baillie said that services had been "pushed past breaking point".
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