Help our NHS heroes: Appeal to support NHS Lothian staff and patients during outbreak

A charity appeal has been launched to support one of Scotland’s largest health boards amid concerns about the impact of the coronavirus on NHS staff and some of the most vulnerable patients.

The Edinburgh & Lothians Health Foundation said they have already provided funds for NHS Lothian staff who are self-isolating to stay in hotel rooms and mobile phones for patients who do not have any means to contact family or friends.

The Foundation was keen to stress the money raised would not be used to buy personal protective equipment (PPE) with the Scottish Goverment responsible for providing essential kit like face masks.

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The appeal has been launched to support staff and patients through the outbreak

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NHS paying out £1.4m every month for empty new Sick Kids hospital

The NHS Lothian Covid-19 Appeal has so far raised more than £134,000 of its £1m target on its JustGiving page.

Nurses and doctors working on Covid wards have found patients arriving in nothing except the clothes that they are standing and staff themselves are facing extra pressures and risk amid ongoing concern about delays to frontline workers getting access to proper protective equipment.

On Sunday, Nicola Sturgeon unveiled new measures to ensure all NHS hospital and community staff, and social care workers, received the PPE they need to keep safe during the Covid-19 pandemic.

UK chancellor Rishi Sunak has also stressed the Westminster Government’s determination to do “whatever it takes” to make sure the NHS and its staff are properly resourced amid growing criticism over the provision of PPE equipment.

The appeal has been welcomed alongside warnings that charitable fund raising must not be used as a plug to fill gaps in provision of what Government should be providing for the heath service.

Scottish Labour MSP, Daniel Johnson, said: “Our response to the coronavirus should not need to be based on charity or good will. “If there is a shortfall in funding for critical ’technology, equipment and support’ we need to know about it now and this needs to be met by the Scottish Government.”

There were also calls for private finance companies working with the NHS to do more to help the health service at a time when they are continuing to receive large payments for car parking and the unfinished Sick Kids Hospital in Edinburgh.

The health board is paying out around £1.4 million each month on the new £150m Sick Kids hospital which has been lying empty since July.Unison branch secretary Tom Waterson said it was “disgusting” that so much is being paid in rent by NHS Lothian during the Covid-19 pandemic.

He added: “We urge the Scottish Government to act now and bring these private entities back into public control.”

The new Royal Hospital for Children and Young People cost £150m to build. Under contract terms, repayments began when NHS Lothian took possession of the site from private consortium IHSL.

The opening of the new Sick Kids was called off by Health Secretary Jeane Freeman in July after final compliance checks found the ventilation system in critical care was not up to required standards.

Scottish Lib Dems MSP Alex Cole-Hamilton said: “In the long-term, this public health emergency must drive a national conversation about how we protect, support and supply our national health service. For example, NHS Lothian could really do without paying £1.4m a month to a private consortium for an empty hospital.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “As the NHS Lothian Foundation have made clear, this JustGiving page is absolutely not asking for donations to pay for PPE, which is of course being provided in the normal way by the Scottish Government.

“Donations are being requested only to pay for small optional extra items to help patients and staff as is normal and welcome for the foundation to do. The

Foundation provides fantastic additional support to our NHS staff.”: Donate now at JustGiving https://www.justgiving.com/campaign/NHSLothian or text NHSLothian to 70490 to donate £5

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