NHS insists it’s ready for a second wave of coronavirus

Dr Abby Gunn and Nurse Eilidh Jack are among the thousands of NHS staff at the frontline of tackling Covid-19.

STV

The NHS in Scotland has learned lessons from the Covid-19 pandemic so far and is better prepared for any second wave, say frontline workers.

Thousands of Scots have lost their lives to coronavirus while healthcare workers have found themselves in the vanguard of a fight against a new and deadly disease.

Nearly five months into a pandemic that looks like it could be about to accelerate again in parts of Europe, NHS workers are looking ahead to the possibility of cases rising again.

STV’s Scotland Tonight programme spoke to clinicians at Inverclyde Royal Hospital as part of a special to be aired at 7.30pm on Thursday.

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Dr Abby Gunn usually works as a stroke consultant, but when Covid hit, she stepped up to lead the strategic response to the virus at Inverclyde Royal Hospital.

A cluster of cases in Inverclyde is currently being investigated, but when we spoke to Dr Gunn, the hospital’s coronavirus ward had not seen any new positive cases since June.

Dr Gunn says staff remain vigilant, however, and view a second major outbreak of the virus as a “realistic possibility”.

Dealing with the first wave means there is now a “wealth of experience” in the NHS when it comes to tackling Covid-19, she said.

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Dr Gunn added: “I would say we would be well-positioned for a second wave if that were to come.”

However, the key word for her when it comes to handling this pandemic is “planning” – at a national and governmental level as well as locally.

Inverclyde has had the highest crude Covid death rate of any council area in Scotland, with 15 deaths per 10,000 people – around twice the national average.

The area also has some of the poorest parts of the country, with the prevalence of the virus and poverty increasingly linked by studies.

“We have a deprived population locally,” said Dr Gunn.

“We anticipated we were going to have deaths. We had seen that from across the world.”

But another issue, she added, is that coronavirus “arrived early” in Inverclyde.

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She believes that when the first case was confirmed in the area on March 12 – nearly two weeks before lockdown began – transmission of the virus through the community was already well under way.

“We saw this coming months in advance,” Dr Gunn told STV.

“Yet we were still doing some of the real-time planning after we had the first positive case.

“And I think it’s a real lesson about global health.”

Nurse Eilidh Jack has worked on the frontline at Inverclyde Royal Hospital throughout the pandemic.

“We need to be open-minded there is a possibility that we will potentially have a second wave,” she said.

“I think from the first wave we have learned how to plan, put things in place.”

In the event of a second wave, all that planning would be “put back into place”, Ms Jack said.

‘We were nearly overwhelmed’

As governments in the UK and around Europe scrambled to fashion increasingly severe responses to spiralling cases of Covid-19, it was up to frontline NHS staff to deal with the first wave of patients.

“Everybody was stressed,” recalled Ms Jack. 

“They were worried about their family.  They were worried about what they would come into. 

“It was so different to what we were used to.

“We didn’t really have a lot of information. 

“We were taking a lot of information from other countries around the world, so we didn’t really know what to expect.”

“We were very close to being overwhelmed and at one point at the peak of our pandemic there were only Covid patients admitted to the hospital.”

Dr Abby Gunn, Inverclyde Royal Hospital

When lockdown was finally announced on March 23, Dr Gunn recalled a feeling of relief.

She explained: “I was relieved because I have two children and they were at school.

“As I saw it building and building down south and moving north and arriving in Inverclyde, I was concerned that lockdown perhaps hadn’t happened at an optimum time because we knew it was already in our community.”

At one stage at Inverclyde Royal, there were no non-Covid patients in the hospital at all.

Sickness rates among staff shot up significantly, and colleagues filled the gaps, working long hours and long weeks, often going on-call at short notice.

Six beds were crammed into what was usually a two-bed critical care unit.

“We knew that a certain proportion of patients with Covid-19 would require critical care,” said Dr Gunn.

“But as we were early in high peak here, we were very close to being overwhelmed and at one point at the peak of our pandemic there were only Covid patients admitted to the hospital.

“Every ward and every room that you went to had Covid-19 in the hospital.”

She added: “With the first wave of patients that we got, there was fear – fear of the unknown, how bad it was going to be, fear for our patients that weren’t going to make it.

“What kind of deaths would they have and would we be able to make them feel better and give them a good death?”

For Ms Jack, the hardest part of the pandemic as a frontline nurse was the restrictions on relatives being able to visit ill loved ones.

“What I found most difficult was patients who were at end of life and you couldn’t have their family member with them initially,” she said.

“That was very difficult. You were communicating over the phone with these patients’ relatives.

“It must have been so difficult for them on the other end of the phone, knowing they couldn’t be there with their loved one in their final hours.”

For more, tune in to Scotland Tonight on STV at 7.30pm on Thursday, July 30.

‘Human swan’ injured and support staff member killed in accident

Dan Burton dies as a result of paramotor accident in the western Highlands and Sacha Dench seriously injured.

Andrew Milligan via PA Media
Paramotorist Sacha Dench was seriously injured in the accident.

Sacha Dench, who was attempting a world-first circumnavigation of mainland Britain to raise awareness about climate change, has been seriously injured after a paramotor accident in the western Highlands of Scotland.

Dan Burton, a member of her support staff, was killed during the incident.

Ms Dench had been dubbed the “human swan” as she attempted a 3000-mile Round Britain Climate Challenge ahead of the COP26 conference due to start on October 31.

In statement, the trustees of the Conservation Without Borders, which was founded by Ms Dench, said the accident happened near Loch Na Gainmhich in the far north of Scotland.

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The statement said: “We are very sorry to have to confirm that Dan Burton, the support paramotorist has died as a result of the accident.

“Sacha Dench is seriously injured and is being treated in hospital. Her injuries are serious but not life-threatening

“Both highly experienced paramotorists, our thoughts are with the family of Dan Burton to whom we offer our sincere condolences.

“The incident was attended by police and medics and enquiries are underway to establish the details of the accident.”

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The statement added that the families of those involved had been informed and that the Round Britain Climate Challenge would now be put on hold.

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Major hunt for missing seven-year-old boy in Ayrshire

Public urged to search sheds and gardens after Carson Shepherd goes missing from his home in New Cumnock.

Police Scotland
Carson Shepherd has gone missing in East Ayrshire.

A seven-year-old boy has gone missing in East Ayrshire, sparking a major police search in the area.

Carson Shepherd was last seen in Afton Bridgend in New Cumnock.

Members of the public are being urged to check their garden sheds, gardens and garages as part of the search effort.

Anyone with information should contact police on 101, quoting incident number 2021 0919- 3162.

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Three men killed and five injured in M8 motorway crash

The westbound carriageway was closed near junction 31 following crash early on Sunday morning.

MarioGuti via IStock
Police investigating fatal road crash in Renfrewshire.

Three men have died after their car left the M8 motorway and crashed early on Sunday morning.

The men, two aged 27 and one aged 31, were pronounced dead at the scene.

Five other men were taken to hospital for treatment of serious but non-life threatening injuries.

The incident happened at around 5.05am on Sunday, when a blue Audi Q7 left the road on the M8 westbound near to junction 31 in Renfrewshire.

A 35-year-old man has been arrested in connection with road traffic offences.

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Inspector Darren Cook, of Police Scotland’s Road Policing Unit, said: “Our thoughts go out to the family and friends of those who have lost their lives as a result of this crash.

“Our enquiries are currently ongoing to establish the full circumstances surrounding the incident and we are seeking assistance from the public to help with our investigation.

“Although this happened in the early hours of the morning, we believe there may be other road users that can help with our enquiry.

“I would ask if you were driving in the area around the time of the incident or have possible dashcam footage that you come forward and speak to officers.

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“Police can be contacted by calling 101 and quoting incident number 0860 of Sunday, 19 September, 2021.”

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Demand for GP services ‘has never been higher in Scotland’

Tory MSP Dr Sandesh Gulhane said he saw double the patients he would normally have seen in pre-pandemic times last week.

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Tory MSP Dr Sandesh Gulhane said demand for GP services is 'unsustainable' as Covid cases continue to rise.

The demand for GP services is “unsustainable” as Covid cases continue to rise across Scotland, claims one NHS doctor.

Dr Sandesh Gulhane, shadow cabinet secretary for health, said he saw double the amount of patients he would normally have seen in pre-pandemic times last week.

Speaking on The Sunday Show, the Glasgow MSP said: “The demand for GPs has never been higher.

“On Monday, I had 80 patient contacts in general practice. That’s not safe, that’s not sustainable, but it’s the level of demand we’re facing.”

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He added: “Pre-Covid you would have about 20 patients in the morning, and you’d have about 15 to 20 in the afternoon.

“And that’s sort of the levels that we would want to be working to, so it’s almost doubled the demand, and the telephones are ringing off the hook.”

Dr Gulhane said patients need to be flowing through NHS services again to help with the current demand.

“We need operations to start again, we need patients being seen in clinics,” he said.

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“We’re struggling to treat them (patients) and all the new patients that are coming to us, so we need to get that flow going.”

Dr Gulhane said one of the main problems behind the backlog of patients was the lack of anaesthetists in hospitals.

He said the Scottish Government needs to make more of an effort to come up with a “strategic recruitment plan” to hire more anaesthetists to assist with appointments in clinics and hospitals.

On Friday senior surgeon Professor Michael Griffin, president of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh, said the majority of the issues in Scotland’s hospitals and the knock-on effect to the ambulance service are not due to Covid.

Prof Griffin warned Scotland has “a real workforce problem in the NHS and in social care” that needs to be addressed and it is causing a “vicious circle” impacting all parts of the health service.

He told BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland programme that increasing numbers of Covid cases and infected patients in hospitals are adding to the “very, very complex problem” facing the health service – including under-pressure paramedics.

It comes after the Scottish Government officially requested help from the army to support the ambulance service amid deteriorating response times.

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The comments appear to contradict Nicola Sturgeon’s insistence that the crisis in the ambulance service is “largely caused by the Covid pressure” and it is “the latest in a number of significant challenges posed to us as a result of this pandemic”.


Celtic slip up on the road again as Shinnie secures Livingston win

Livingston moved off the foot of the table after stunning Celtic.

Ross MacDonald via SNS Group
Andrew Shinnie produces a clinical finish to sink Celtic.

Andrew Shinnie’s first-half strike consigned Celtic to a sixth defeat in seven away games under Ange Postecoglou as their poor record at Livingston continued.

Shinnie got across Stephen Welsh and fired the only goal into the top corner in the 25th minute to earn Livi their first cinch Premiership win of the season and take them off the bottom of the table.

The touch and finish was the sort of quality Celtic lacked in the final third as they failed to make their possession and territory count and went five games without victory at the Tony Macaroni Arena.

Celtic got a number of crosses into the box but home centre-backs Ayo Obileye and Jack Fitzwater marshalled striker Albian Ajeti as the visitors ended the day in sixth place.

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Postecoglou handed Boli Bolingoli a recall as the left-back played for the first time since he breached quarantine rules at Kilmarnock on August 9 last year, days after a secret trip to Spain.

Celtic had Liel Abada back on the right wing after he missed the Europa League defeat by Real Betis but were still missing a number of regulars including skipper Callum McGregor.

James McCarthy was handed his first Celtic start while Anthony Ralston was rested as Josip Juranovic moved over to his natural right-back position. Welsh replaced the absent Carl Starfelt in central defence.

Livingston started with five in midfield including three natural left-backs and on-loan Rangers player Ben Williamson, with Shinnie handed the lone striker role.

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Home skipper Nicky Devlin received a yellow card within the first minute and team-mates Jason Holt and Adam Lewis joined him in the book during the first quarter as Celtic dominated.

For all Celtic’s possession, Max Stryjek’s biggest worry during this spell was when he fumbled an overhit cross from Bolingoli.

Joe Hart made his first save from Jackson Longridge’s long-range strike but he was beaten a minute later when Shinnie met the left-back’s low cross and finished from 14 yards.

Celtic still struggled to test Stryjek. David Turnbull shot wide after a loose ball flashed towards him and Cameron Carter-Vickers twice headed off target.

The hosts came close to doubling their lead just before the break when Fitzwater volleyed a Lewis free-kick but Hart threw out a hand to divert it over.

Stryjek was busier early in the second half, stopping Welsh’s header on the line and getting down to hold Turnbull’s long-range effort.

But the game soon went back to the first-half pattern with Celtic playing in the Livingston half but unable to carve out chances.

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Ajeti finally got a couple of opportunities as the game entered the final 20 minutes, heading wide from six yards following a corner and forcing an excellent stop from Stryjek after getting the ball to feet on the edge of the box and turning his man.

Postecoglou made three changes in between those opportunities but his only attacking option was Mikey Johnston, who came on for his first appearance of the season following injury, in place of Tom Rogic.

Stryjek parried from Turnbull but Livi came closer when Hart touched substitute Alan Forrest’s angled drive past the post.

The Hoops continued to push but their final threat came when Carter-Vickers shot wide from 25 yards. 


Woman seriously hurt in crash dies three weeks later

Valerie MacKinnon, 73, has died following the crash on the A87 between Balmacara and Kyle of Lochalsh.

Police Scotland / © Google Maps 2020
Valerie MacKinnon passed away in hospital.

A woman who was left with serious injuries following a crash in the Highlands has died three weeks later.

The collision happened around 1pm on Sunday, August 22, when a Honda Jazz car and a Skoda Rapid car crashed on the A87 between Balmacara and Kyle of Lochalsh.

Valerie MacKinnon, 73, from Sleat in the Isle of Skye, who was a passenger in the Skoda Rapid, was seriously injured in the crash.

She was taken to the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow where she died on Wednesday. Officers say her family has been informed.

Two others injured in the crash, the 58-year-old male driver of the Honda and his 55-year-old female passenger, were both released from hospital after treatment.

Sergeant Ewan Calder, Highland and Islands Road Policing, Unit said: “Our thoughts are with the family of Mrs MacKinnon at this time.

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“Officers are continuing to carry out enquiries in relation to this collision and would appeal to anyone who has not yet spoken to police to get in touch.

“Information can be passed to officers via 101. Please quote reference number 1969 of Sunday, August 22, 2021, when calling.”


Hundreds gather to celebrate final day of Hindu festival

Colourful celebrations at Glasgow's Kelvingrove Park as Indians living in the city showcase their culture.

STV News

Hundreds of people have gathered in a Glasgow park to celebrate the final day of a Hindu festival.

The event has been run by Glasgow Indians for the last decade.

Organisers say it’s a chance to celebrate and sustain their culture, and share with family who still live back in India.

Abhijeet Chavan of Glasgow Indians told STV News the celebration helps bring communities together.

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He said: “People can come here, they can celebrate and back home, their parents and their relatives can see that, you know, the culture is going on.

“Glasgow is a city that says ‘Glasgow loves culture’ and ‘People make Glasgow’ so that is the reason, this helps us.

“We really love Glasgow and Glasgow allows us to celebrate our culture right and it is open to everyone.”

Body found near Loch Lomond as police probe ‘unexplained’ death

Discovery of man's body was made in Balloch, West Dunbartonshire, at around 11am on Sunday morning.

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Police investigating after man's body found near Loch Lomond.

The body of a man has been found near one of Scotland’s most popular tourist destinations.

The discovery was made near Loch Lomond at about 11am on Sunday in Balloch Road, Balloch, West Dunbartonshire.

Officers have launched a probe into the death, which is currently being treated as unexplained.

A Police Scotland spokesperson said: “The death is currently being treated as unexplained and inquiries into the circumstances are ongoing.

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“Emergency services remain in the area.”

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Only Fools And Horses star John Challis dies aged 79

The actor cancelled a 30-date speaking tour earlier this month after only one appearance due to ill health.

Stuart C. Wilson via Getty Images
Only Fools And Horses star John Challis has died.

Only Fools And Horses star John Challis has died from cancer at the age of 79, his family has said.

He was best-known for his portrayal of unscrupulous second-hand car dealer Boycie in the beloved sitcom, alongside Sir David Jason and Nicholas Lyndhurst.

He cancelled a 30-date speaking tour earlier this month after only one appearance due to ill health.

A statement from his family to the PA news agency said: “It is with heavy hearts that we bring you such sad news.

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“Our dear friend and yours, John Challis, has died peacefully in his sleep, after a long battle with cancer.

“He will always be loved for being ‘Boycie’ and leaves a great legacy of work that will continue to bring pleasure and smiles for many years to come.

“Please respect the privacy of John’s family and friends at this difficult time, and be assured that in the future there will be an occasion to celebrate John’s life – when everyone will be welcome to come along.”

Challis played Terrance Aubrey Boyce in Only Fools And Horses from 1981 to 2003, as well as in Boycie-focused spin-off show The Green Green Grass.

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He recently became an honorary citizen of Serbia, where the BBC sitcom remains hugely popular.

Challis made the documentary Boycie In Belgrade, exploring why the show was so beloved in the Balkan country.

Boycie, a cigar-smoking businessman with a mocking laugh, was married to the feisty Marlene – played by Sue Holderness – and regularly butted heads with Sir David’s Del Boy.

Challis was also known for playing Monty Staines in ITV sitcom Benidorm.

His family have requested that instead of flowers, donations are made to his favoured animal charities – Cuan Wildlife Rescue, Tusk and The British Hedgehog Preservation Society.


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