NHS Forth Valley ready to cope with coronavirus cases

NHS Forth Valley's top doctors say Forth Valley Royal Hospital in Larbert still has plenty of capacity to cope with hospital admissions that COVID-19 will surely bring.

By Kirsty Paterson
Tuesday, 31st March 2020, 10:42 am
Updated Tuesday, 31st March 2020, 10:43 am

And their fervent hope is that the number of people who have been staying indoors and reducing contact to an absolute minimum will keep Falkirk and its neighbouring areas in a good place to fight the pandemic in the weeks to come.

Dr Andrew Murray, Forth Valley's medical director, said: "I can tell you that we do have in-patients with both COVID and suspected COVID.

"We have a handful of people who are more seriously unwell, but I wouldn't want to get into any more specifics, because the numbers are low so I don't want to risk identifying individuals."

Central Retail Park much quieter than usual.

"What I can say is that we are seeing the numbers increasing over the last week or two which is in keeping with the modelling and the projections.

"That's what we're basing our planning around so we know we can cope with those increases as we get into this"

He stressed that most people who get COVID -19 will only experience mild symptoms and the advice is still that they should stay at home and self-isolate.

Those who find their conditioning worsening should phone 111.

Dr Murray says there are plans in place to cope with the projected surge in cases if the disease takes a grip as it has done in other places but they were nowhere near that stage yet.

He said: "I would even go so far as to say we have significant capacity at the moment."

Dr Graham Foster, NHS Forth Valley director of public health, said the relatively low numbers locally were an encouraging sign.

He said: "We have that capacity because people are staying at home and being sensible and if we can keep that going the virus won't be able to spread.

"We have to remember that the only way the virus can spread is through people so if we stop the spread we can get on top of the pandemic.

Dr Foster said they really wanted to celebrate the numbers of people who have taken on board the message and stayed at home.

And to those who are tempted to jump in their cars to enjoy the first of the spring sunshine, he has a simple message:

"Just don't do it!" said Dr Foster. "I can't be clearer. If you drive, you'll need petrol, increasing social contact; you may break down, increasing social contact; and you may be in an accident, taking up vital health service capacity."

But he also thanked the people who were going about their essential work keeping food and other essentials in the shops.

In particular, he thanked the community pharmacists who had become the new 'front line' in health care.

Detailed health information and advice on coronavirus is available on the NHS Inform website and people without symptoms looking for general information can also call the free coronavirus national helpline on 0800 028 2816 which is open from 8.00am to 10.00pm every day.

The NHS 24 number 111 is for anyone who has Coronavirus symptoms and feels they are getting worse, particularly after seven days.