While our collective efforts meant we witnessed a significant decline in the rate of growth of the virus, as we reopened our economy and society, the reproduction number (R) has risen significantly above one, leading to rising numbers of cases and the test positivity rate in most areas of Scotland. While the total number of cases is a fraction of the peak in March/April, at the current rate of growth, it would reach peak level by the end of October, and hospital and ICU admissions – while low, relative to start of the pandemic – have started to increase following a sustained decline since April.
The Winter Preparedness Plan is the Scottish Government’s overarching plan which sets out, at a high level, the broad context and priorities for the NHS in Scotland until March 2021.
The Plan sets out the range of actions to be put in place across the health and care system and, with wider partners – Health and Social Care Partnerships (HSCPs), Local Authorities and COSLA, etc. – to manage the public health emergency and provide services over the coming challenging winter months. Underpinning this work are a range of detailed planning documents, including the Re-mobilisation Plans from the 14 territorial and 7 national health boards, as well as specific critical activities undertaken at a national level, such as the Flu Vaccination programme or Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Plan. The Winter Preparedness Plan will also be supported by the establishment of the new Centre for Sustainable Delivery (CfSD), under the aegis of the Golden Jubilee Foundation. Finally, our work has benefitted from advice from the Scottish Government’s Covid-19 Advisory Group Subgroup on Public Health Threat Assessment and we will continue to monitor and adjust our plans as the scientific understanding of the virus, disease and our responses to it develop.
All of this work is aligned to the principles and objectives of Re-mobilise, Recover, Re-design: The Framework for NHS Scotland which sets out how health boards will safely and incrementally prioritise the resumption of some paused services while maintaining COVID-19 capacity and resilience.
Today, we are also publishing a PPE Action Plan on our website which will ensure that everyone in Scotland who needs it has access to Personal Protective Equipment this winter, and shortly thereafter we will publish a detailed Adult Social Care Winter Plan for 2020-21. Together these will set out the measures that will be required across the whole health and care system to ensure that it is as prepared as possible to meet the challenges ahead.
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