Scotland looking to set up coronavirus field hospital

Chief medical officer Dr Catherine Calderwood revealed sites are being considered for such a facility.

Covid-19: London's ExCel Centre becomes field hospital. Getty Images
Covid-19: London's ExCel Centre becomes field hospital.

Detailed discussions have taken place about setting up a field hospital in Scotland to cope with the increasing number of coronavirus patients.

Dr Catherine Calderwood, Scotland’s chief medical officer, revealed sites are being considered for such a facility.

It comes as the NHS in London plans to use the ExCeL Centre to treat up to 4000 people.

Dr Calderwood said Scottish officials “have had quite detailed discussions very recently and I know there are sites being considered”, with the country “on the cusp of that rapid escalation” of Covid-19 cases.

The chief medical officer also said supplies of personal protective equipment (PPE) to front-line medical staff should improve this week.

She said: “I’m hearing from my colleagues in the NHS, they really are worried, and this makes me very uncomfortable, to send people to work on the front-line when they are worried that the masks in particular will run low or run out.”

Dr Calderwood explained there is a “global shortage of protective equipment”, saying this is “in part because the factories in China where most of these are made have been shut down for so many weeks”.

But she said new supplies have been released to health and care workers this week, with the NHS also taking steps to improve the distribution of such vital items.

Dr Calderwood explained large orders for items such as masks have “clogged up the system” but added the distribution system had now been changed.

She told the BBC: “Obviously people were ordering for their GP surgeries or from the hospitals ordering many, many more masks than they ever would have before and that seems to have clogged up the system with huge orders of which there weren’t enough supplies so the order just didn’t get processed at all, because it couldn’t be fulfilled.

“So we’ve ironed out that numbers problem and this week we’re changing the distribution so we are going to have separate distribution lines to primary care, and separate to social care, to our care homes, and then another line into our hospitals, to really speed that up.

“I can’t emphasise how much we need to prioritise making sure our healthcare and social care workers are safe.

“That will be I would hope up and running this week, distribution should not be a problem in Scotland after this week.”

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