Scottish Government announces extra £37 million to help support the NHS over winter

The Scottish Government has announced an extra £37 million to help support the NHS over winter.

Health Secretary Jeane Freeman unveiled the funds today

Health Secretary Jeane Freeman today unveiled new funds as part of the NHS Winter Preparedness Plan.

Speaking in Holyrood, Ms Freeman also announced new objectives on vaccination and testing.

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She said: “Last month I announced £1.1 billion for NHS Health Boards and Integration Authorities to meet the costs of responding to the pandemic.

“Today I’m announcing an additional £37m to ensure our health and care services are in the best position to respond to these unprecedented winter challenges.

“These resources will support our key priorities for the next phase - our vaccination programmes, Test and Protect, and sustaining our essential services.”

Ms Freeman also announced the Scottish Government now planned to vaccinate nearly 2.5 million people for flu as part of a two-step approach to saving lives.

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She explained: “The first of these is underway using a range of delivery routes, with health boards aiming to deliver vaccinations to all high risks groups by December 31 with many operating seven days a week to do that.

“Alongside this our work is underway – learning the lessons from the flu programme – to see a national plan with local delivery for the Covid-19 vaccine – as soon as one becomes validated and available and with an initial focus on protecting the most vulnerable to harm.”

The Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley MSP also announced an expansion of testing.

She told MSPs: “Our Test and Protect strategy is a key element in that battle to disrupt the spread of the virus.

“We are increasing overall Scottish testing capacity from current position of around 27,000 to at least 65,000 tests per day by the winter, drawing upon both NHS Scotland and UK-wide Lighthouse lab capacities.

“Three new NHS Regional Testing Hubs will be fully operational by early December, contributing an additional 22,000 daily tests to that 65 thousand number.

“And we’re working through what additional capacity new processing technologies can offer and new test routes can bring to our plan to increase the cohorts of individuals offered regular asymptomatic testing – in line with the clinical review published on last Friday.”

Her announcements came on the day it emerged the Protect Scotland Covid-19 tracing app is now compatible with similar systems in Northern Ireland and Jersey – and should be able to link up with the app in England and Wales in the “coming weeks”.

More than 1.5 million people have now downloaded the Protect Scotland app to their smartphones, with more than 10,000 people having been contacted by the system to let them know they have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for coronavirus.

Ms Freeman insisted the Scottish Government would do whatever it takes to keep the public safe.

She said: “I am absolutely determined that we will do everything in our power to be ready for these challenges.

"We have learnt a great deal from the first wave of the pandemic and we are better prepared.

"Our NHS Winter Preparedness Plan sets out the range of actions we are taking to support our incredible healthcare services and to work with them to manage this next phase.

“That is nothing more than they – and the people of Scotland – deserve.”

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