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

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The First Minister:

We will continue to give details of that. We have in place very robust plans for escalation in intensive care. Right now, there is, of course, pressure on intensive care, but we are not near running out of intensive care beds. We still have plans that would allow us to increase ICU capacity.

That is true across Scotland as a whole for ICU capacity and hospital beds. Individual health boards will face pressures at given times. In recent weeks, Lanarkshire has faced probably the most acute pressure in that sense. Of course, mutual aid arrangements between health boards will kick in as well.

Thus far, we have not required to use the Louisa Jordan hospital for Covid-related matters. At this stage, we still do not consider that we will require to use it, but we will keep that under review. Should the position change, we will set out the operational plans for that. The Louisa Jordan hospital has, of course, been seeing patients—thousands of patients, actually—to help to reduce the backlog.

If I or the health secretary stood here and said that we do not have concerns about hospital capacity, that would not be true. Part of what is driving the very tough action that we are taking is the need to protect our hospital capacity for Covid patients and non-Covid patients. Right now, the health service is operating within that capacity, and we will continue to support it to do so.