Scotland urgently needs a Nightingale hospital, say GPs

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Scottish soldiers prepare to test NHS workers for Covid at a testing facility in Glasgow Airport last year - Ministry of Defence/Cpl Nathan Tanuku/Crown Copyright 2020/Handout via Reuters
Scottish soldiers prepare to test NHS workers for Covid at a testing facility in Glasgow Airport last year - Ministry of Defence/Cpl Nathan Tanuku/Crown Copyright 2020/Handout via Reuters

Scotland’s NHS crisis has become so bad that GPs say they need a Nightingale hospital to cope, with 200 British troops set to be called in to prop up the SNP-run health service.

A senior family doctor claimed that closing the NHS Louisa Jordan, Scotland’s equivalent to the Nightingale field hospitals that were set up in England, may be “one of the worst decisions” of the pandemic taken by Nicola Sturgeon.

The First Minister on Thursday revealed that she was to formally seek assistance from the British Army, after a scandal in which a pensioner died at home after waiting 40 hours for an ambulance to arrive.

It was confirmed on Friday that soldiers are to drive NHS ambulances, while others will run mobile coronavirus testing units that had previously been crewed by Scottish Ambulance Service workers.

The £70 million Louisa Jordan was closed in July, but Ms Sturgeon is now considering setting up temporary admissions wards elsewhere.

Pop concerts and wrestling matches where patients could have been seen

The building that hosted the Louisa Jordan, the Scottish Events Campus in Glasgow, is now being used to host events such as concerts and WWE wrestling, before it hosts the Cop26 climate summit in November.

John Montgomery, chairman of the South Glasgow GP committee, said he had never been more apprehensive about a “looming winter crisis” for the health service.

He told the BBC: “Given that the critical problem we face right now is lack of beds, and the Louisa Jordan was set up effectively as a field hospital, then unfortunately closing it because of the forthcoming Cop26 may turn out to be one of the worst decisions that we’ve made.

“The Louisa Jordan would have been a perfect place for patients who might not have required necessarily high-intervention levels of medicine, perhaps required nursing care, and would have been a perfect place for ambulances to take patients to.”

Ms Sturgeon has blamed the current crisis on coronavirus.

However, Professor Michael Griffin, president of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh, warned Scotland has “a real workforce problem in the NHS and in social care”.

“It’s not just due to Covid,” Prof Griffin said, adding that the pandemic is responsible for “probably 30-40 per cent of the issues that we’re seeing.”

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