AN INCREASE in the number of people within Dumfries and Galloway requiring urgent treatment for COVID-19 has prompted an implementation of some contingency arrangements.
Additional ward space has been brought online this week at Mountainhall Treatment Centre in Dumfries for non-COVID patients.
NHS Dumfries and Galloway Chief Operating Officer Julie White said: “From the earliest stages of this pandemic, planning has been in place which provides flexibility in our ability to respond to the coronavirus outbreak.
“Although our services have been under pressure since the outbreak began, particularly during the first wave, the unprecedented number of local cases in recent weeks driven by the new COVID-19 variant has resulted in a record number of hospital admissions due to the coronavirus – and this has continued to grow.
“The number of newly identified COVID cases in the region has seen a slight decrease in recent days, but the situation remains precarious. The delay in time between someone developing COVID and potentially becoming extremely unwell means that many of the people currently being admitted to hospital became positive before local cases had reached their record high.
“In order to ensure that we are able to continue to provide urgent care to those most in need and to ensure that we have the resources where we need them, we have now enacted some of our contingency planning.
“As of today, Mountainhall Wards 1 and 2 are now online, based in the old Cresswell building, staffed to provide care initially to ten non-COVID patients. This will help ease some of the pressure within the system, particularly at Dumfries and Galloway Royal Infirmary where treatment is being provided to those most unwell with the effects of COVID.
“Doing this helps ensure we retain capacity in our system not just to manage COVID, but also to meet the many other urgent and emergency health requirements within our region.
“We also continue to provide treatment to both COVID and non-COVID patients at Galloway Community Hospital in Stranraer, and four cottage hospitals have been earmarked previously to serve as COVID step-down facilities should they be required.”
Mrs White added: “Amid all this, we have to remember that the ability to shape what happens now in Dumfries and Galloway sits with all of us individually.
“COVID, especially the new variant, is highly transmissible, but its spread of infection relies on the opportunities resulting from people’s interaction.
“If we keep our distance, we restrict that opportunity, and the message from the Scottish Government just now during lockdown couldn’t be clearer – in order to save lives, stay home as much as possible.
“Very importantly, I would encourage anyone who has a health concern to seek assistance. Although we are challenged by COVID, measures such as these today are there to help ensure that we can continue to offer urgent support to people with other conditions, and it’s important that everyone has the confidence to come forward and seek help – with measures in place to limit any spread of the coronavirus and protect patients and staff.”