ADDITIONAL beds have been brought in to cope with a higher than usual number of people being admitted to Kirkcaldy’s Victoria Hospital.
But while the increased demand has brought additional pressures, medical and nursing staff have been praised for doing everything possible to ensure patients are treated as quickly as possible.
Caroline Inwood, director of the nursing operational division, said: “The current high demand for emergency beds means that some patients have been experiencing a delay in being admitted to wards.
“Over the past few weeks NHS Fife has admitted a number of very sick patients. These patients are having to stay in hospital longer to recover from their illness which has resulted in a reduced number of patients that can be discharged.”
Although delays are inevitable at times of peak demand, with some patients remaining on trolleys or in waiting rooms longer than would be desired, Ms Inwood said every effort was being made to ensure patients were admitted to wards as soon as possible
“In all circumstances, our staff are working very hard to maintain our patients’ dignity,” she said. “Additional beds have been brought into the hospital which means that patients can be looked after on a hospital bed.”
Ms Inwood added NHS Fife was also working with its partners in the community and social services to best manage the capacity.
A significant concern for hospitals at this time of year, particularly when operating at close to or above capacity, is the possibility of an outbreak of Norovirus, the winter vomiting bug.
Schools and care homes in Fife have already experienced outbreaks this winter, and a ward at Victoria Hospital had to be closed to new admissions for a period last month as a precautionary measure following reports of sickness and diarrhoea.
Ms Inwood said: “Norovirus is always a risk at this time of year and we would ask anyone who is feeling unwell to refrain from visiting so that Norovirus is not brought into the hospital.
“Ensuring patients are safe is our highest priority.”
Stringent infection control precautions are in place in the hospital and the situation is monitored on a regular basis.
A major source of Norovirus in hospitals are visitors who come in despite being unwell and then accidentally transmit infection.
Dr Gordon Birnie, medical director of NHS Fife’s operational division, warned: “If you have been experiencing vomiting or diarrhoea you should not visit until at least 48 hours after your symptoms have stopped. This is important because you will still be infectious after you begin to feel better.”