The latest coronavirus figures - confirmed at 2pm today Thursday 19 March - show there are still no cases officially detected in the Outer Hebrides or in Orkney.

The total for Highland Region is now six, one up on the previous day.

There are 24 cases shown for Shetland - an increase of eight since yesterday. Some cases from Grampian have been reassigned to Shetland as more information on cases became available.

A total of 6,506 Scottish tests have been concluded so far. Of these:

  • 227 tests were positive. That's up 39 from yesterday. In all, 139 of the cases were in Greater Glasgow, Clyde, Lanarkshire and Lothian areas - an increase of 24 since yesterday.

A change in the testing régime means there is expected to be a lull in the rising number of cases until serious infection victims start to emerge from self-isolation in a few days time. 

A total of six patients in Scotland who tested positive for Coronavirus have now died. That total has doubled since yesterday. 


NHS Western Isles has cancelled a number of services as a measure to help staff prepare for significant and unprecedented service pressures anticipated in the coming weeks and months of the coronavirus outbreak.

NHS Western Isles says: "These decisions have not been taken lightly, and are being implemented in the interests of protecting public health and avoiding the spread of COVID-19.  NHS Western Isles understands that this is a very worrying time for patients, and we would like to reassure that these precautions are aimed at keeping essential services running safely. 

 ELECTIVE SURGERY, SCOPES AND OUTPATIENT APPOINTMENTS

NHS Western Isles will continue with planned elective surgery until Friday 20th March. Thereafter, all elective surgery is regrettably cancelled until further notice.  Scope activity will continue at present.

In terms of outpatient activity, and appointments with consultants, this is under urgent review. We will be using Near Me/Attend Anywhere conferencing with patients as much as possible.

Patients are currently being contacted directly to inform them of cancellations.

AHPs

In terms of appointments with Allied Health Professionals (Physiotherapists, Occupational Therapists, Speech and Language Therapists, Dietetians, Podiatrists and Radiographers), the majority of routine appointments are being cancelled (with the exception of appointments which will help prevent hospital admission). Again, patients will be contacted directly regarding cancellations.

 DENTAL

Routine dental appointments will not be offered until further notice, but all urgent and emergency services will continue.

This will help limit the chance of infection being passed between patients in busy waiting areas.

Some of the dental clinics based alongside medical practices will be closed, to reduce pressure on their services. Lochmaddy and Tarbert Dental Clinics will temporarily close for this purpose, and emergency patients will instead attend Western Isles Dental Centre or Liniclate.

When calling to make an appointment you will be asked a few questions about your health. This helps staff judge how urgently we need to see you, and the safest place for your treatment.

Patients who have existing health problems, particularly if older, should mention this when calling.

 MATERNITY

Maternity services will be largely running as normal, with the exception of the cancellation of Parent Classes stopped for the next month. Women will be contacted directly if there are changes to their antenatal appointment times or arrangements.  Any women with concerns, travelling from the Uists and Barra to Stornoway, should get in touch with Head of Midwifery through their local midwife.

NEAR-ME PHONE AND VIDEO CONSULTING

All GP practices and hospitals in Scotland have been asked to increase their use of remote consultations by phone or video.

This will mean most people can receive the NHS care and advice they need from their own home to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

Phone will be the first choice, with a step up to:

  • Near Me video consulting where it offers additional clinical benefit
  • face-to-face consultations when needed

More about Near Me phone and video consulting:

https://www.nhsinform.scot/coronavirus#information-for-professionals

https://www.nearme.scot/

NHS Western Isles Chief Executive, Gordon Jamieson, said: “Western Isles NHS Board has conducted, and continues to do so, on a daily basis, reviews, and resilience planning for all services, in response to the rapidly developing Coronavirus situation.

“We are confident that our rigorous approach to planning how we will care for those who require care, hospital admission and those who become the most sick, is putting us in a high state of readiness to respond.

“All our plans will, by necessity, evolve and change rapidly and daily in response to Coronavirus and the uncharted territory it presents. It must be recognised, that no single plan, or indeed collective plans, reflect the unique, unprecedented resilience and responses required to effectively respond to and combat Coronavirus.

“The pandemic we now face, is going to cause severe and unprecedented challenge and disruption to health and social care services. The NHS and partner resources will be severely stretched.

“We are indeed in uncharted territory, and will need to respond rapidly and flexibly to the challenges and difficulties before us. Our staff, energy and resources will require to be deployed in ways never imagined or planned for before, and in ways we would previously probably have considered unacceptable.”

He continued: “Many of our planned diagnostic, care and treatment procedures are being quickly scaled back to allow for the emergency capacity that will be needed in the weeks and possibly months to come.

“If your planned procedure or operation needs to be cancelled, you will be notified as soon as possible, and kept informed of any developments. I apologise to those of you who will experience delay.”

“I hope you will come to accept why we have had to take these necessary steps. Your NHS staff are working tirelessly to be ready to respond over a long period, and I pay enormous and sincere tribute to their efforts and commitment.”