Covid-19 Update

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament on 3rd March 2020.

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Photo of Jeane Freeman Jeane Freeman Scottish National Party

Ms Lennon will know that I have offered a briefing to party spokespeople and party leaders after the statement, should they wish it. Mr Dey’s office has emailed the four nations action plan to all members, so they will all have sight of that. On NHS 24, the most up-to-date figures that I have are for 1 March—I will have yesterday’s figures later.

There was an increase of 44 calls to the helpline. There was a significant increase in the number of views of the NHS inform web page. The increase in calls is important, but it is not yet overly significant; however, NHS 24 has a free advice helpline, as well as the 111 number for those who experience symptoms—they would receive a clinical triage through that line.

We have asked NHS 24 to do some scoping work on how it might need to scale up and what would be needed to allow it to do that. That is part of what all our boards are looking at as we speak.

On staff and unions, an initial call was made this morning to all senior figures in Scotland in all unions involved in the NHS. We will undertake conversations with them about what the detail of all the necessary work might mean. NHS Scotland staff policies cover situations where, for example, a member of staff is asked to self-isolate in order to ensure that that does not count for their absence record. There are also NHS policies around carers and caring responsibilities, and so on. We have asked that those policies are double-checked, and we will have a discussion with unions to ensure that they are as good as we need them to be for this particular situation.

I have asked—I hope that it has already happened—that detailed information to all NHS staff be circulated, with a repetition of the guidance and with a commitment that we will continue to keep them informed about what is happening even if they do not work in an area that is actively engaged in the current situation.

On employers in other sectors, I know that, as part of her portfolio responsibilities, my colleague Ms Hyslop is engaging with the business sector and others to ensure that they are planning and thinking about how they will help their employees to help us in the particularly important phases that we need in order to manage the spread of the virus.