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Health / Plans confirmed for transport of intensive care patients

SCOTTISH health secretary Jeanne Freeman has confirmed that it will be the air ambulance service which will fly coronavirus patients in need of intensive care to hospitals on the Scottish mainland rather than the military.

There was uncertainty earlier in the week as to what organisation would carry out the task after UK health secretary Matt Hancock had initially confirmed to isles MP Alistair Carmichael that the military would carry out the task.

In the Scottish Parliament on Tuesday, however, the health secretary said that it would be Scottish Air Ambulance that would ensure the transfer of any patient from any of the Scottish islands who has the clinical need to do so.

She confirmed that initial concerns regarding fixed wing aircraft and personal protective equipment have been resolved.

Freeman further announced that efforts were made to double the capacity of intensive care units (ICU) in Scotland, while the number of hospital beds across Scotland will be increased by 3,000 to 16,000.

She also said that additional supply of oxygen in hospital and the community was in place and a further 450 new standard concentrators for use in the community had been ordered.

Shetland MSP Beatrice Wishart said: “I’m grateful for the assurances from the health secretary that plans are in place to transfer isles patients who need intensive care to the mainland.

“With no intensive care unit in Shetland, it’s crucial that any transfers are done as safely and efficiently as possible and that NHS staff and patients know exactly how that will happen.”