SPARE capacity at the Vale of Leven Hospital is being considered as a back-up option in the event of more beds being required as the coronavirus pandemic escalates, according to Helensburgh's MSP.

Jackie Baillie says the commitment was made during a meeting she held with senior NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde officials on Friday.

Ms Baillie urged chief executive Jane Grant, board chair John Brown and Jonathan Best, chief operating officer for acute services, to take advantage of spare bed capacity at the Vale.

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Ms Baillie said: "It was confirmed that ward six of the Vale of Leven hospital is being considered as a back-up option, should the need for more beds intensify, as the number of diagnosed positive cases increase.

"The need to build capacity within the workforce was also discussed. Plans are currently being drawn up which would see retired healthcare professionals as well student staff members being brought on and placed in frontline positions.

"Specialist-trained staff will also be moved to frontline care provision."

Ms Baillie said she had also urged the health board to expand the current levels of testing in order to gain a more accurate idea of the scale of the problem, and ensure that healthcare and social care workers are urgently tested so that they are safe to be at work.

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She said: “I had a constructive meeting with NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde.

“I urged the health board to make full use of the extra beds that are lying empty at the Vale of Leven hospital.

"Given the sharp daily rises in the number of coronavirus cases that we are seeing, it would be counterintuitive for the health board not to use all of the resources that they have available to them.

“I also reiterated my demands for the Vale of Leven out of hours service to be restored to its full opening hours.

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"It is utterly unacceptable that my constituents are having to travel to Stobhill Hospital in Springburn or the Victoria Hospital in the south side of Glasgow in order for them to see an out of hours GP.

"The discussions between the health board and local GPs have been positive but we need a greater sense of urgency in restoring the local service. As ever, I am grateful to our local GPs for their efforts.

“Now more than ever, local residents need to feel reassured and have full confidence in their local health service.

"Restoring the out of hours service and using the Vale’s spare capacity would go a long way in achieving this.”

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