SCOTLAND’S unused temporary hospital could be used to help clear a backlog of patients needing elective treatment, Nicola Sturgeon has confirmed. 

In April, the SEC in Glasgow was transformed into the NHS Louisa Jordan hospital as health bosses braced themselves for an influx in Covid-19 patients requiring treatment. The Scottish Government ramped up its intensive care capacity across the NHS, but the emergency hospital was never required. 

At First Minister’s Questions, Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard raised concerns over plans to re-start the NHS. 

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That followed comments made by Scotland’s interim chief medical officer, Dr Gregor Smith, who earlier told Holyrood’s Covid Committee that a decline in the number of people not seeking treatment for urgent medical conditions was “raising risk that people could suffer serious harm as a result”. 

He added: “The early data that probably caused me concern was probably people not presenting with urgent conditions in the way that we would expect them to do.”  

Speaking at First Minister’s Questions, Mr Leonard called for re-starting the NHS to be treated as a national priority. 

He said: “NHS lockdown has resulted in thousands and thousands of patients going without treatment – at  least 80,000 alone waiting for surgery, many are waiting anxiously, many are waiting in pain.   

“One resource not yet used but readily available is the £43 million NHS Louisa Jordan. Can the First Minister give us an update today on her plans for the NHS Louisa Jordan?  

“Will the lease be extended and if so, what role does she see it playing in easing pressure as the National Health Service begins to re-start in the weeks ahead?” 

The First Minister said she has been “absolutely delighted and relieved” that the NHS Louisa Jordan hospital has not yet been needed.

She said if it had been needed that would have meant Scotland's existing hospitals had been "overwhelmed" by coronavirus, and "undoubtedly" many more people would have died from the disease. 

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She added: "We should all be very thankful for the fact it hasn't had to be used so far."

Ms Sturgeon pledged to ensure the NHS Louisa Jordan is "there for as long as we may need it". 

She stressed that "careful" decisions are needed about whether the temporary facility can be used for elective treatments, noting additional capacity in the health service may be needed if there is a resurgence of the virus. 

Ms Sturgeon told MSPs: "We have to make sure we are protecting some capacity to deal with any surge in the virus while getting the NHS back to normal. 

"But the NHS Louisa Jordan is part of our considerations and the Health Secretary will keep Parliament updated."