A third Scottish health board has requested help from the armed forces as it faces a staff shortage ahead of the winter months.
A formal request for military aid was made by the NHS Grampians as the healthcare service faces mounting pressure as a result of the coronavirus and the backlog of care built up during the pandemic.
Last week, the British military was called in to help NHS Lanarkshire and NHS Borders, with a total of 86 personnel deployed for a period of three weeks.
Soldiers are also helping vehicles from the Scottish Ambulance Service under a different arrangement.
An NHS Grampian spokesman confirmed that a request for military aid had been made and the Board of Health was awaiting a response.
Staffing pressure means acute services in the NHS – such as emergency departments, surgery and diagnostics – are operating at capacity.
Following a request for support last week, Health Secretary Hamza Yusuf said the armed forces would provide additional capacity.
He added: “With increasing levels of social distancing and close social contact, it is expected that this winter will be transmitted with Covid-19 respiratory viruses, such as the flu, given the winter pressures typically faced by the NHS. Add.
“This logistical support will allow both boards to support existing staff to reduce wait times, increase care, and provide a better experience for our patients.
“As always, I want to thank everyone involved in our health care systems for their continued hard work and dedication during this particularly busy time.”
Scottish Conservative health spokesman Dr Sandesh Gulhane said the latest request showed government support for the NHS was inadequate.
He said: “We are not even close to the peak winter period, yet we have three health boards requesting immediate military assistance.
“This is a direct result of the delay and inaction of Hamza Yusuf.
“Their lackluster NHS recovery pamphlet and late winter plan for our healthcare just isn’t cutting it.
“More and more patients are paying the price for the lack of leadership.
“The support of our UK Armed Forces is very welcome and hopefully it will ease the pressure on my allies on the front lines.”
The Sage epidemiologist, Professor Andrew Hayward, warned there is a “great potential” for the NHS to come under extreme pressure this winter as the news comes as levels of Covid immunity from vaccinations.
Credit: www.independent.co.uk /