NHS Scotland - winter preparedness plan: 2020 to 2021

The Winter Preparedness Plan sets out, at a high level, the broad context and priorities for the NHS in Scotland until March 2021.

Test and Protect Response

Test and Protect plays a vital role in our winter plan by identifying positive cases quickly and identifying close contacts of confirmed cases, allowing us to contact these individuals and ask them to self-isolate. A fundamental element of the Test and Protect system is the capacity to deliver testing to meet demand over the winter and beyond.


  • Suppress the virus by early identification of cases through an effective Test & Protect system.
  • Successful expansion of testing capacity to meet modelled/predicted demand.
  • Contact Tracing system rapidly identifies close contacts, ensuring chains of transmission are broken.
  • Isolate and Support measures in place to look after people who need to self-isolate.
  • Monitoring of the virus spread (current and historical) by surveillance testing.

How We Will Deliver This

  • Increase Scottish testing capacity to at least 65,000 tests per day by the Winter, drawing upon both Scottish and UK Government lab capacities.
  • Put in place 3 new Regional Testing Hubs by early December, providing a total of 22,000 additional tests per day. These will be brought on stream through a phased approach between November and December.
  • Capitalise on innovations in testing. Continuous work is underway to improve turnaround times, including using developments in testing and processing technology as these become validated and available.
  • Care Home staff testing via NHS labs in place by end of November with circa 37,000 tests per week re-routed through Scottish Lab capacity by December.
  • We have provided NHS boards with £19 million to ensure they can retain sufficient contact tracing capacity while remobilising their services, and boards’ staffing plans are under regular review to ensure capacity is maintained. Additional resilience also continues to be in place at a national level in the form of the National Contact Tracing Centre run by NHS National Services Scotland.
  • Protect Scotland app, which works with the Test & Protect system to quickly notify people at risk from the virus, to work with similar apps from across the UK, Crown Dependencies and Gibraltar by November, with other countries following.
  • From October, delivering the Self-Isolation Assistance Service in partnership with Local Government to provide pro-active triaging calls to people self-isolating to ensure they receive practical support, where required, to self-isolate. Financial support will be on offer for people suffering financial hardship as a result of being asked to self-isolate.
  • Surveillance of key population groups through a variety of surveillance testing studies to monitor level of current infection and previous infection (via antibody testing) . These surveys include: ONS study – whole population sampling, SIREN – Healthcare workers, and CASS – Schools and early years staff.


Email: Winter_Planning_Team_Mailbox@gov.scot

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