NHS Borders hopes the building of a new ward at Borders General Hospital will ease the pressure of outbreaks such as the norovirus, writes Kenny Paterson.
The hospital has been forced to shut wards due to the vomiting disease this winter, with cases increasing in 2012.
But the health board says its plans for an eight-bed outbreak facility – submitted to Scottish Borders Council as an extension of ward six – will help it cope with future epidemics.
NHS Borders’ assistant medical director, Dr Hamish McRitchie, said: “The new ward annexe will be a very useful addition to our facilities.
“It will help us to maintain capacity at times of extra pressure and give us more flexibility. For example, this year (2012) we have seen higher than normal numbers of patients suffering from norovirus and this has put pressure on our wards.
“Having extra beds, which can also be used for isolation purposes, will help us to maintain services in future situations like this.”
NHS Borders also plans to upgrade the outpatients department, using funding from the Scottish Government, so that it includes an integrated rehabilitation facility and new, fit-for-purpose accommodation for audiology, physiological measurement and medical short-term patients. Refurbishment of the older peoples ward 10 is also due to be carried out.
If planning permission is granted, NHS Borders says the new ward should open in June.
Norovirus cases at the BGH have fallen in the last two weeks, with no wards currently closed, but across Scotland cases rose by 75 per cent in 2012.
Dr Ed James, who is part of NHS Borders’ infection control team, warned: “Although the numbers appear to be going down, it is important that we continue to take precautions to make sure we don’t have another increase.”
For up-to-date information and advice, phone NHS24 on 08454 24 24 24 or visit www.nhs24.co.uk.