Covid-19 update: NHS Borders prepares for the worst

Borders General Hospital.Borders General Hospital.
Borders General Hospital.
NHS Borders is currently preparing for three ‘reasonable worst-case scenarios’ as it continues to battle coronavirus.

The scenarios have been dictated to the trust by the Scottish Government, which has instructed health chiefs to prepare for three possible eventualities.

The first scenario predicts an early resurgence in late August, peaking in September. This second peak would necessitate 20 beds in Borders General being taken up by coronavirus patients between August 20 and September 20, with a further three being admitted to the ICU during that period.

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The second scenario predicts a winter peak, starting from the current low prevalence of coronavirus in Scotland. The model for this scenario predicts a peak similar in size to the first virus peak.

The third scenario is a combination of the first two – a second peak in September, followed by a much larger winter peak – which could be three times the size of the first coronavirus spike.

However, there are currently no COVID-19 positive in-patients in hospital in the Borders, with the last Covid-19 positive admission being on June 8.

The figures were presented at the latest meeting of the Scottish Borders Health and Social Care Integration Board, which brings together NHS Borders, Scottish Borders Council and patient representatives.

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At the meeting, held on Wednesday August 19, NHS Borders chief executive Ralph Roberts said: “The first point I would make is that we have relatively low levels of Covid and we recognise that Covid is happening in outbreaks and clusters across the country, and we can absolutely expect that to happen in the Borders in due course.

“But at the moment the level of covid activity in the Borders is relatively low and we don’t have patients in hospital.

“We need to be prepared for increases in activity in the future and we need to begin to remobilise our services and get those back to normal as quickly as we can.

“Part of our preparation for that is our ability to try and understand what will happen next.

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“There are some scenarios which the Scottish Government has developed with Public Health Scotland and the statisticians around what might happen.

“I think it’s important to emphasize these are not predictions of what will happen, but they are scenarios around different things that might happen and I suppose from our point of view the important point is that we need to build our plan for the next six or nine months through to next March, recognising that they might be additional peaks of Covid activity at different levels.

“There are three scenarios that they’ve described. The first one is an early resurgence as lockdown is released, and I think certainly we would say that at the moment at least in the Borders, that doesn’t feel that that is happening to the scale that they suggested it might, but we will need to keep an eye on that.

“They’ve described two other potential peaks later on in the year – a reasonably low peak and then a much higher peak. Our challenge is to make sure our plans for restarting services will allow us to continue to be able to respond to those peaks as and when they might happen.”

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Due to the lack of dates supplied by the Scottish Government, NHS Borders has not provided an estimation of bed usage for the last two scenarios

Currently, only around seven people in the Borders have coronavirus, according to the report..

The current estimated daily infection rate in Scotland is 0.425 per 100,000 people.

For the Borders, this means there are between three and four new cases each week – a quarter of which are known to the health board through coronavirus testing.

The trust is therefore estimating around seven people in the region are capable of transmitting the virus, assuming a two-week infectious period for each case.

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