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Coronavirus Q&A with the NHS

By Fiona Reid
Coronavirus Q&A with the NHS

WE asked NHS Dumfries and Galloway some of the key questions around the outbreak of Covid-19 in this region and how it's going. Here's what they said:

* Is the number of patients that has been seen and treated to-date with Cv19 as expected, or lower, for D&G?

Dumfries and Galloway Health and Social Care Partnership has developed a wide range of possible local COVID-19 scenarios as part of its planning, and current patient numbers fall within that range of scenarios.

* According to the published data, there have been 231 positive tests and 24 deaths locally, which gives us a worryingly high mortality rate of over 10 per cent. Can we get a comment on this please? 

Current figures should not be relied upon as illustrating the scale of Covid-19 in Dumfries and Galloway. The region was one of the last in Scotland to experience positive cases, and the national approach to testing then moved away from the community to focus on those being admitted to hospital with the most serious symptoms. 

A considerable focus of testing has been around supporting treatment of those most serious Covid-19 cases, and in ensuring the continuity of essential services. We are aware there are likely many cases of Covid-19 in the community which have not received an official diagnosis, but where people are still kindly self-isolating. However, one of the groups most vulnerable to Covid-19 is older adults with existing health conditions, and Dumfries and Galloway is notable for an ageing population with chronic underlying health concerns. 

There are numerous initiatives currently underway, including the shielding programme, which are seeking to protect the most vulnerable in our communities. We are continuing to promote national messaging around staying at home to help stop the spread of the virus.

* Is there currently enough bed capacity in DGRI to deal with the case numbers?

DGRI is currently well placed to handle the existing number of cases, and able to scale up capacity as required.

* Given the hospitalised numbers so far, is it still expected that Mountainhall will need to be used at some point?

A number of arrangements have been put in place as part of the partnership’s multi-phase plan, which is escalated by trigger points linked to patient numbers. However, it is hoped that many of these arrangements might not be required.

* How many people have been hospitalised with CV19 in D&G and recovered. 

The number of hospital inpatients with COVID-19 who have recovered currently sits at 54. 

This figure will be updated weekly on Wednesdays at 12 noon on the NHS Dumfries and Galloway website.

* Have we reached the peak of the virus yet locally?

National restrictions on movement introduced four weeks ago have undoubtedly had an effect on the progress of Covid-19, and currently we do not believe we have reached the peak within Dumfries and Galloway. 

However, Covid-19 has been a rapidly changing situation, and we must be ready for a range of possibilities.

* How is the NHS workforce holding up in terms of percentage of available workforce and absences? Also, how many student nurses have joined and how many retired personnel returned to help out?

A total of 42 retired members of staff have returned to duty to assist in meeting the challenge of Covid-19 within Dumfries and Galloway, while 120 students have joined the workforce. 

There is a time lag in the production and verification of sickness absence levels, so we cannot provide verified real time absence data presently. We are working to have to have this available. 

Operationally, our attendance levels of staff overall remain sufficient to deliver all of our essential patient services safely, whilst supporting our staff who are absent from work at this time.

* Has the number of patients attending the Emergency Dept for non CV related injuries or illnesses fallen over the last month, and by roughly what percentage? 

We have seen a decrease in numbers of people presenting to the region’s two Emergency Departments since the arrival of Covid-19 – despite both continuing to operate as normal – and so are very keen to promote the message that anyone with a serious health concern should always seek assistance. 

It is possible that restrictions on movement may have reduced the number of emergency incidents. However, anyone who might have concerns around being exposed to coronavirus should be assured that great care is being taken to reduce any risk of transmission, with specific, separate routes for treatment for people with Covid-19.



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