Council welcomes news that extra hospital wards to be opened

The move by NHS Lothian will help meet increasing demand and emergency admissions.

Wards in the Royal Victoria Hospital (RVH) will be re-opened to provide extra capacity for the expected increase in the number of patients over the next few months.

It comes as the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh is facing increasing pressure from emergency admissions. The situation is then being exacerbated by the numbers of delayed discharge patients and other issues, such as the winter vomiting virus norovirus.

It has already been recognised that the level of population increase in Lothian is making it increasingly difficult to cope with capacity at the RIE and extra capacity is required to ensure that a safe service can continue to be provided.

However, the plans that are in place will take some months to achieve and it has been decided to provide a temporary alternative that will allow NHS Lothian to continue to provide safe, patient-centred care over the busy months ahead.

Councillor Ricky Henderson, Health and Wellbeing Convener for the City of Edinburgh Council, said: "There is a growing demand for care and support services, especially at this time of year, so the reopening of the Royal Victoria Hospital will help to meet demand.

"The Council has been working extremely hard with NHS Lothian to address identified shortages and since April we have increased the level of homecare service the Council provides by an extra 4,000 hours per week. We have also made additional investment in our homecare overnight teams, intermediate care service and telehealthcare service to help ensure the essential care required is available for older people in their own homes."

Melanie Hornett, Nurse Director, NHS Lothian, said: "We have taken a long, hard look at the facilities and resources we have available as part of our winter planning exercises and we know we don't have the abilities to meet demand.

"As a result, we have put this temporary solution in place to allow us to serve patients in a timely manner, while increasing our capacity from within."

The contingency plan was drawn up as part of routine winter planning, which in previous years has seen bed numbers increased on other sites, including Astley Ainslie Hospital, Royal Victoria Hospital and Liberton Hospital among others.

At the moment two extra wards will be re-opened within the facility, within the next few weeks. However there is potential to increase as the winter season progresses and demand increases as a result of winter weather.

The Royal Victoria Hospital was closed in August after the last ward moved on to different sites within NHS Lothian, including the new Royal Victoria Building at the Western General Hospital and the Royal Edinburgh Hospital. 

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