Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament on 22nd December 2020.

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The First Minister:

I will ask the Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport to write to the member with an update on hospital capacity and what pressures there are on that capacity before we get into the Christmas period, and to copy that update to all members.

It is, of course, for individual health boards to manage capacity pressures. We know that NHS Lanarkshire, like NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde and, more recently, NHS Grampian, is experiencing significant pressure from Covid generally. That has been the case for NHS Borders in recent days, as well. Overall, if we look at the numbers that I have given today for people in hospital and in intensive care, they are significantly below overall capacity. They are also below the peak levels that we saw earlier in the year. There are some parts of the UK where both those things—certainly in relation to hospital capacity and, in some cases, ICU capacity—have already exceeded that peak.

We are not in a position to be complacent; we are working with the NHS to manage the situation. However, I come back to the central point that the more we do to stop the new strain of the virus taking hold, the better able we will be to ensure not only that our NHS can cope with Covid patients but that, as it is doing that, it can continue to treat people with non-Covid conditions.