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Bed shortage highlighted by health boss

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By Newsdesk
Front

THERE are not currently enough acute hospital beds in Dumfries and Galloway to deal with the worst possible scenario in terms of a spike in coronavirus patients.

That was the message from Dumfries and Galloway Health and Social Care Partnership chief officer Julie White as she gave an update to local councillors at a meeting last Friday.

Ms White said the partnership was developing a five-point surge plan detailing how they would respond to a sudden spike in the number of Covid-19 patients locally. But she admitted that there are not enough hospital beds to allow them to implement the plan in full if it became necessary. She said: “We do have a number of beds that we still have in stock from the old hospital, however we don’t have sufficient beds in stock to deliver the totality of our surge plan. We have ordered additional beds but the lead time for those beds can be a number of weeks because of the demand coming from elsewhere. We are looking at alternatives for those beds and where we might be able to procure those beds from, like the Army for example, but as things stand at the moment we don’t have enough beds to fill the total surge plan if we get to that maximum level.”

Ms White said there are spaces within Dumfries and Galloway Royal Infirmary which could be used to accommodate more beds if they become available. She continued: “We will also be looking at the use of our cottage hospitals as intermediate care or step-down Covid-19 hospitals for patients with Covid-19 who no longer require the use of an acute hospital bed.”

During her update Ms White said other limiting factors in terms of planning their response to a spike in patients included staffing and a “finite stock” of PPE, but she said the partnership is working hard to ensure safe staffing across all hospital and community settings and to provide clear guidance on the appropriate use of PPE. She continued: “I think working in Dumfries and Galloway it is going to be hugely challenging for us all working across the public sector and in health and social care.

“However, there is no place I would rather be across Scotland in terms of our ability to work together across our partner organisations. “Already the strength of partnership working that has been show to support us puts us in a very good place to respond.”

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