An update on continuing work to address the challenge of COVID-19 was submitted to the NHS Dumfries and Galloway Board this week.
The Board met virtually on Monday, and were briefed on new developments including the move towards the introduction of ‘Test, Trace, Isolate and Support’ – in line with national directions.
Addressing the Board, NHS Dumfries and Galloway Chief Executive Jeff Ace described the scale of work to implement this approach locally – explaining that this will involve the recruitment of new staff and the introduction of new IT solutions. Melissa Gunn and Andy Ferguson now have oversight roles as part of work to take forward ‘Test, Trace, Isolate and Support’.
Mr Ace noted:
- the testing system in Dumfries and Galloway had significantly expanded, and has now been joined by mobile testing delivered by the military for people over 65 and non-health and social care key workers.
- a relatively small number of COVID-positive patients were currently in the critical care unit at DGRI.
- an increase in activity around non-COVID matters, with a rise in attendance at emergency departments.
NHS Dumfries and Galloway Chief Operating Officer Julie White provided an update on work aimed at anticipating and managing the future potential demand on services generated by COVID-19. Mrs White observed that this work encompassed all the directorates and considered issues including availability of beds and staff, as well as matters ranging from medication supplies to PPE.
Echoing the message delivered by Mr Ace, Mrs White confirmed that COVID-19 testing has been a ‘real focus’ for the Health and Social Care Partnership. She explained that testing has increased in care homes, in line with instructions from the Scottish Government. Mrs White also noted new protocols around testing for over 70s and for other people ahead of surgical procedures.
Mrs White stressed the strength of cross-agency working within the Partnership, especially around shielding and care homes.
She explained that work is taking place to see what increase can be delivered around elective work, with a focus on using NHS Near Me or telephone appointments. CAMHS core mental health service was cited as an example of a service which had continued to operate. Mrs White noted there had been an increase in referrals to the crisis team for young people, particularly around anxiety and stress at this time, but noted that quick responses had been possible.
Mrs White also pointed towards work to bolster the arrangements for ‘Home Teams’, which will be able to provide health and social care support more directly within communities.
Monday’s meeting drew towards a close with updates from Director of Finance Katy Lewis, who noted that, despite considerable challenges, a break even position had been able to be achieved for NHS Dumfries and Galloway in the financial year 2019/20.