Covid: Sturgeon says pause in hospital operations will be ‘as short as possible’

The pause in operations at a number of Scottish hospitals will be kept “as short as possible”, Nicola Sturgeon has said.

On Tuesday, the First Minister was asked about the fact a number of hospitals have declared “code black” and postponed non-urgent surgeries due to rising numbers of coronavirus patients.

She also said the government was currently in discussions about removing the blanket requirement for healthcare staff to self-isolate when they are identified as a close contact of someone with Covid-19.

The move would free up medics to deal with pressure in hospitals.

During Tuesday’s virtual meeting of the Scottish Parliament, Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie highlighted the pressure the self-isolation requirement was putting on services.

READ MORE: What does code black mean for hospitals?

He said: “Three code blacks issued by hospitals this week means long-awaited operations are being cancelled.

“GP appointments are also off, pharmacies closed, waste not collected and social care impacted too.

“It’s in large part because thousands of key workers are self-isolating, even though they have tested negative.”

He said a “test and release” system should be introduced urgently.

The First Minister responded: “When health boards are announcing the pausing of elective, non-Covid treatment, we want that to be for as short a period of time as possible.

“That’s not something we are just going to extend for a long period of time.

“This is something that is kept dynamically under review – there is a great emphasis right now on trying to get the NHS back to normal.”

Ms Sturgeon referred to her plans to change self-isolation rules for close contacts when Scotland moved beyond Level 0.

She said the government was exploring whether the relaxation of the rules could be introduced for “key parts of our workforce” at an earlier point.

Discussions were ongoing with trade unions “right now”, she said, with any changes announced to parliament.

The First Minister also said she wished Mr Rennie “all the best” following his announcement on Monday that he would be stepping down as Scottish Lib Dem leader.

The Herald Scotland

The Herald Scotland

The Herald is a Scottish broadsheet newspaper founded in 1783. The Herald is the longest running national newspaper in the world and is the eighth oldest daily paper in the world. The title was simplified from The Glasgow Herald in 1992