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Scottish office workers reassigned to hospital cleaning

08 January 2018

Office workers at a Scottish health board were reassigned as cleaners last week. 

With the NHS stretched to breaking point by an outbreak of flu and respiratory illness last week, NHS Lanarkshire took what it called "exceptional measures" and asked for volunteers to “suspend their day job” and spend five days performing cleaning and administrative duties at hospitals and GP centres. 

The call came as the number of people consulting their GPs over flu and respiratory infections increased by a quarter, and as health boards urged Scots to stay away from A&E unless absolutely necessary.

The NHS 24 hotline confirmed it had experienced its busiest festive period since it was set up 15 years ago. It received 95,784 calls across the Christmas and New Year weekends, with a further 238,089 hits on its website.

Attendances in hospitals operated by NHS Lanarkshire skyrocketed, with The Royal Hospital for Children in Glasgow seeing a 44 per cent increase, Inverclyde Royal Hospital a 34 per cent rise and Wishaw General Hospital went up 33 per cent.

Calum Campbell, the board’s chief executive, said: "This is an unparalleled situation in Lanarkshire and exceptional circumstances need exceptional measures to enable us to deliver our number one healthcare priority - patient safety. We asked our office-based staff to consider volunteering to suspend their 'day-job' to support their clinical colleagues, bearing in mind our key purpose and commitment as an organisation to care for people who need our help."

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