South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth has warned that our NHS is in the midst of an “historic crisis”, as NHS Lanarkshire is forced to escalate risk levels to cope with the pressure.

In October 2021, the Health Board took the extraordinary step of escalating services to risk level black – the highest level.

However, with the situation deteriorating since, they have been forced to go even further, briefing staff on their “Never Services” protocol, which is designed to protect services that can never be stopped.

Citing “historic” pressure on health and social care, NHS Lanarkshire confirmed a new set of sweeping emergency measures in addition to those already in place.

Under the system, services not designated as essential “Never Services” will be paused or reduced to allow staff and resources to be reallocated.

This includes the “managed suspension of services” in General Practice, which will see them focus on the most urgent and time-critical care.

Colin Smyth said: “It is beyond a shadow of doubt that our NHS is in the midst of an historic crisis.

“This unprecedented move reveals how dangerous the situation really is.

“Not long ago escalating to risk level black was almost unheard of, but now not even that is enough.

“Staff are working tirelessly to do right by patients, but services have been pushed past breaking point.

“This Health Board was already at the highest risk level – alarms have been sounding for months on end, but the SNP failed to respond.

“Our NHS is in critical condition and many of the problems it faces were there before the pandemic. The SNP need to wake up to the scale of the emergency we face and deliver urgent support for NHS Lanarkshire and the rest of our struggling Health Boards, as well as a real long-term recovery plan.”

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