Military assistance for NHS in Lanarkshire, Borders

Humza Yousaf

The Scottish Government said on Friday that military assistance has been requested for NHS Lanarkshire and NHS Borders “in response to the immediate pressures on the NHS because of COVID-19 and the backlog in care caused by the pandemic.”

Acute services in both health board areas are operating at capacity because of workforce shortages associated with the virus.

A total of 63 military personnel will be deployed to NHS Lanarkshire – including three nurses, 45 military medics, 12 general duties troops and three drivers .

In NHS Borders, 14 military medics, two nurses and four additional military personnel will provide assistance in acute settings. A military driver will provide transport. Two military medics will oversee operations from the army’s headquarters in Scotland.

Military support for the two health board areas is due to start on October 19 and continue initially until November 10, 2021, though this “will be kept under constant review.”

Health Secretary Humza Yousaf said: “The NHS is experiencing significant pressure at the moment because of COVID-19 admissions and the backlog in care built up during the pandemic and we are taking a range of steps to introduce additional capacity in order to help with the unprecedented pressures on the health and care system.

“Earlier this month we announced a record winter package funding of £300 million to support a range of measures to maximise capacity in our hospitals and primary care, reduce delayed discharges, improve pay for social care staff, and ensure those in the community who need support receive effective and responsive care.

“In the NHS Borders and NHS Lanarkshire areas, staff shortages because of COVID-19 are affecting bed capacity and temporary military assistance has been requested to support the boards at this time.

“With increasing levels of social mixing and close social contact it is expected that this winter COVID-19 will circulate alongside respiratory viruses, such as flu, adding to the winter pressures usually faced by the NHS.

“This military support will allow both boards to support existing staff to reduce waiting times, enhance care and provide a better experience for our patients.

“As always I would like to thank all those involved in our healthcare systems for their continuing hard work and dedication over this particularly busy time.”