Nicola Sturgeon: Scotland's NHS ready to "scale up capacity" to tackle Coronavirus rise

Nicola Sturgeon says the NHS is ready to "scale up" capacityNicola Sturgeon says the NHS is ready to "scale up" capacity
Nicola Sturgeon says the NHS is ready to "scale up" capacity
Nicola Sturgeon has said preparations are underway to "scale up capacity" in Scotland's health service to deal with the impact of Coronavirus.

School closures could also be ordered to slow down the spread in Scots communities.

The prospect of empty hospital facilities being brought back into use and retired NHS staff being asked to return to work are among the measures under consideration, depending on the spread of the virus.

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There is expected to be a further rise in Coronavirus numbers in Scotland today above the the 16 confirmed cases so far.

"I expect that to rise rapidly in the days to come," Ms Sturgeon told BBC Scotland's Politics Scotland today.

"There is still lots we can do to try to contain the spread of the virus a bit longer," she added.

"But when that ceases to be possible, there are actions that we can take to try to slow down the spread of the virus and crucially reduce the number of people who are going to be infected at any one time.

"That's crucial because obviously the fewer people infected at any one time, the less the pressure will be on our national health service.

"That said, there is likely to be significant pressure on out National Health Service, so we are also planning to scale up the capacity that it has to treat people."

The vast majority of Scots who get the virus will not need hospital treatment, the First Minister said.

She added: "For the smaller number who need hospital treatment, the focus will be on making sure the NHS is equipped to provide that care and treatment.

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"There's a lot of work underway, it's a serious situation but it is being taken very seriously too."

She added that the NHS has "escalation plans in place" for scenarios which increase demand for its services.

"The kind of things the NHS plans for is Yes to, if necessary, postpone non-urgent treatment to ensure the capacity is there for more urgent cases, people who need hospital care.

"We are also looking at plans that will allow us to increase capacity - to increase not just general hospital capacity but increase intensive care and high dependency capacity as well.

"There are facilities that we can use that are perhaps not used routinely, you will have heard in recent times talk of perhaps encouraging, if necessary - and I keep stressing that - healthcare workers who have retired from practice to come back in so that we've got additional staff.

"It may require procuring additional equipment. The point I'm making is that there are plans in place that have been carefully refined and thought through right now."

Ms Sturgeon said the authorities are now preparing for the shift from the current "containment" phase to the "delay" phase after the virus becomes embedded in the community.

“There's been a lot of talk about school closures and clear that is one of the measures that has been implemented in other countries and it is one of several measures that could be considered here,” she added.

"But I want to stress there is no decision been taken on that."