The Presidents of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow, The Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh and the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh have written to the Editor of the Times calling for a national strategy for managing hospitals over the coming months.
An edited version of this letter was published in the Times today.
The Times Scotland
Tuesday 3 rd November 2020
Across Scotland our members are seeing a rapidly rising number of patients with COVID-19 being admitted to our hospitals. This significant increase in the number of seriously ill patients is happening as many hospital services have reopened following the initial pause in services in the spring, and has placed huge pressures on an already exhausted workforce.
At the start of this pandemic the whole NHS pulled together to ensure that we were ready for the challenges we faced. We now need a similar effort to prepare for the long winter ahead.
We know that governments across the UK are already implementing plans to reduce community transmission, and this is welcome. We urge the public to follow the guidance to help protect themselves and others.
In addition to this, we also need to agree a national strategy for balancing the competing pressures of treating patients with COVID-19, those without COVID-19 who need urgent care and elective work. We must strike a balance between the needs of these three groups of patients if we are to keep the NHS afloat throughout the impending winter storm. These should not be competing efforts, because unless we effectively manage COVID-19 in our hospitals we cannot safely provide essential and elective care.
As we have seen already, the needs of different parts of the country can vary greatly over time, so Health Boards must be given flexibility to plan the right balance for them throughout the winter period.
All of this must be aligned to an improved testing strategy for NHS staff in order that we can continue to provide services as close to capacity as possible.
Only by developing and implementing a strategy that delivers these elements can we ensure that the NHS in Scotland will effectively weather the storms ahead.
Professor Michael Griffin OBE, President of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh
Professor Jackie Taylor, President of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow
Professor Angela Thomas OBE, Acting President of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh