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Hospital worker tells Scottish Covid Inquiry hospitals were only “half full” during the covid outbreak A porter has testified at the Scottish Covid-19 Inquiry that the hospital he works in was “half full” at “the outbreak” of covid and the beginning of the first lockdown. In April 2020, gradually covid patients began being admitted to the hospital but it was still not anywhere near as busy as on a normal day pre-covid. The UK Covid-19 Inquiry is examining, considering and reporting on preparations and the response to the pandemic in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, in areas reserved to the UK Government and Parliament.  Whereas, the Scottish Covid-19 Inquiry is investigating aspects of the devolved strategic response to the pandemic between 1 January 2020 and 31 December 2022. Established in February 2022, the Scottish Covid Inquiry officially opened in May 2022. The Inquiry has been split into four investigative streams called portfolios : Portfolio 1 – Public sector response. Portfolio 2 – Financial and welfare support to businesses and individuals. Portfolio 3 – The provision of health and social care services. Portfolio 4 – Education, certification, impact on children and young people. It held its final week of Health and Social Care Impact Hearings from 21–23 May 2024.  On the last day, Neil Craig who has worked as a hospital porter at Glasgow Royal Infirmary for 25 years gave his oral testimony.  He worked as a porter at the hospital throughout the covid pandemic and was giving evidence relating to the impacts of the pandemic and its response on porters as a union representative for Unite. At first, he and his hospital porters were not catching covid.  They felt it was their duty to continue working despite what was being publicised in the media.  At first, he said, the managers at the hospital didn’t know what the impact of covid would be or the number of patients to expect. “They thought that the workload was going to be higher so we were all there. And we could be there as long as we wanted to be really because people weren’t sure if you were going to be needed. But it turned out they weren’t really needed,” he told the Inquiry.  Because there was a significant fall in the amount of work that porters had to do. “We didn’t have the capacity [high numbers of patients] in the hospital.  Obviously, a lot of patients they discharged out of the hospital, either to home or care homes or other places [and] they didn’t schedule elective surgeries. So, the workload was definitely not as bad,” he said. In his written testimony (see the last section of this article), Craig said that the medical block was less than half-full.  He was asked what he meant by the “medical block.” “Medical block would be like your everyday general medicine patient,” he explained.  “We’re used to being at full capacity most days.  But then you’d go into the wards and they were like half empty, half full, whatever you look at it.” So, as he stated in his written testimony, people were still going to work but a long period could pass before a porter was asked to do a job.  “Because the amount of workload was near the same and because we had probably, that was the best time we were staffed in the hospital because people felt it was their duty to go to work and work through it. And we had lots of free downtime,” he told the Inquiry. From sometime in April 2020, admissions to the hospital of covid patients increased and “gradually the workload would increase but it still wouldn’t be anywhere near as a normal day [pre-covid] because you’ve not got elective surgeries on, you’ve not got clinic appointments. So, you’ve only got people that need to be, seriously need to be, in a hospital and emergency fears,” he said. You can watch the afternoon session of the Covid Inquiry hearing on 23 May 2024 HERE . The part of Neil Craig’s testimony included in the video below begins at timestamp 39:37 . Neil Craig’s testimony at the Scottish Covid Inquiry, 23 May 2024 (4 mins). Source: Freedom Podcast As Andrew Bridgen , Member of the UK Parliament for North West Leicestershire,  pointed out in a tweet: Do you remember Debbie Hicks being arrested for a “public order offence” because she filmed empty wards and waiting rooms in hospitals? Neil Craig: Written Testimony In the clip above, Mr. Edwards was questioning Craig about paragraphs 28, 30 and 31 of his written testimony.  You can find Craig’s full written testimony HERE .  Below we reproduce paragraphs 28 to 32. Shift patterns 28. Pre-pandemic, I would work 48 hours per week, though I was only contracted for seven and a half hours per week. I worked an extra hour each night and a Sunday for four hours. During the pandemic, I also worked most Saturdays too, so I was working nearly every day, sometimes seven days a week, just because I was a union rep. I thought that I needed to be at the hospital to make sure that I knew what, if anything, had changed. 29. At first, porters were not catching covid, so through the first lockdown they were well staffed every day. People were happy to go to work as they did not want to be in lockdown. They were the only people getting out then, so they preferred to go to work. No one attended work with any symptoms. 30. At the beginning of the pandemic, the amount of work was heavily reduced as the hospital was nearly empty due to the number of patients being discharged home or to care homes within the first couple of weeks. Prior to that, the wards were normally full every day, with the hospital having at least 1000 hospital beds. The medical block was less than half full. 31. There was less work, so there were times when staff went an hour to an hour and a half before having to pick up a job. This continued up until the end of April 2020. There were no operations, and the theatre recovery area was turned into covid areas. The staff at the time were just grateful to be able to leave the house and go somewhere else when everyone else was having to stay indoors, although some did feel restless with the reduced workload. However, it was still better than being cooped up in a house – some workers lived by themselves, and it was better for them to be coming in and talking to people, rather than being alone at home. 32. From around April 2020, gradually more and more covid patients were admitted.

Hospital worker tells Scottish Covid Inquiry hospitals were only “half full” during the covid outbreak
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