Scottish NHS on ’emergency footing’ as operations cancelled

Jeane Freeman told MSPs the NHS in Scotland is being placed on an 'emergency footing'.

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Non-urgent elective surgery will be suspended in the NHS in Scotland, the health secretary has announced.

Addressing MSPs, Jeane Freeman said she was placing the Scottish health service on an “emergency footing” for at least the next three months to help tackle the coronavirus outbreak.

The health secretary said a plan is in place to double the number of intensive care beds available in Scotland and increase overall hospital beds by 3000.

Freeman also expressed her condolences for the families of two people who have died in Scotland after contracting the virus.

The second patient death, in the Greater Glasgow and Clyde area, was confirmed on Tuesday as confirmed Covid-19 cases in Scotland rose to 195.

Freeman said the emergency measures being put in place would be “nothing short of the most rapid reconfiguration of our health service in its 71-year history”.

She added: “Our goal is simple: to protect and save lives and we need everyone’s help to achieve this.”

Speaking shortly before the health secretary, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon told MSPs the pressure the NHS will soon be under will be “immense”.

The health secretary announced in further measures that an additional 350 oxygen concentrators had been in ordered and that senior medical students will be deployed within the health service into roles appropriate to their skills.

She stressed that while non-urgent elective surgery would be suspended, urgent care for other medical conditions and cancer treatment would continue.

For those who have surgery cancelled, she said patients would stay on a waiting list until it is “clinically appropriate” for scheduled operations to commence again.

Freeman said further supplies of protective equipment had been given to health boards for distribution to GPs.

She also announced the NHS would next week contact every immunosuppressed person in Scotland next week so ensure stringent measures are in place to protect them.

The health secretary told MSPs the crisis is “a watershed moment in our nation, in our world and most certainly in our NHS…

“This is going to take everyone, we all have a responsibility and we need everyone’s help.”