NICOLA Sturgeon has no plans to admit Covid-19 patients to the NHS Louisa Jordan – despite warning “across the country the health service is under pressure”.

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One health board, NHS Ayrshire and Arran is already at breaking point in terms of hospital capacity – which Ms Sturgeon said on Monday was at a staggering 96 per cent – while three other boards are also under severe strain.

Speaking at her daily coronavirus briefing, the First Minister said the latest statistics showed 1,467 patients and now in Scottish hospitals – an increase of 83 on the previous day – warning that the figure almost “matches the number that were in hospital in the first wave back in April”.

Ms Sturgeon was asked whether the Louisa Jordan site, which has not admitted a single Covid patient – but has been used for outpatient and diagnostic services and now as a vaccination centre, could be utilised to ease the pressure on hospitals.

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She said: “We keep the use of the NHS Louisa Jordan under review.

“We are not planning, as things stand just now, to use it for Covid patients.

“It’s not been lying able for the past few months – it has been seeing thousands of outpatients, it’s been used for a site for training of staff and students as well.”

The First Minister stressed that pressure on NHS “is severe and it is increasing”

HeraldScotland: First Minister Nicola SturgeonFirst Minister Nicola Sturgeon

She added: “We really can’t emphasise enough the pressure that is on the health service and the role all of us need to play to try and help alleviate that.

“The position varies from health board to health board. Borders health board, Greater Glasgow and Clyde, Lanarkshire and Ayrshire and Arran – these are the ones that have seen the greatest pressure but I don’t want anybody to get the sense that there is any part of the country right now where the service is not under pressure.”

Scotland’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr Gregor Smith, said officials “constantly review” the use of NHS Louisa Jordan.

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He added: “At the moment, it’s designated as what we call a green site – that's for non-Covid patients. It's been an extraordinary facility to be able to make sure we still see patients from four health boards, that have been using it, particularly for their outpatient and diagnostic services in a way that we’ve seen literally thousands of patients go through their doors there.

“I’m aware that many of the staff from Greater Glasgow health board have been attending there to receive their vaccination.

“Because of the size of the campus there, they have been able to be seen and processed through that vaccination safely, quickly and in large numbers.”

Ruling out of an immediate mobilisation of the Louisa Jordan, constructed at the SEC site in Glasgow, comes as it’s revealed more patients were definitely or probably infected with Covid-19 while in hospital during the second wave of coronavirus, according to official figures - than the initial peak.

Public Health Scotland found 1,058 people definitely caught coronavirus while in hospital between the start of the pandemic and July 19.

A further 273 infections probably occurred on hospital wards during that time.

There was then a five-week period from July 20 to August 23 with no definite cases and just two probable infections in Scottish hospitals.

But since then, 1,045 definite cases of hospital transmission and 556 probable cases have been recorded.

However, there were almost 70,000 more cases in the community during the second wave, according to the official data, and the highest number of weekly infections were recorded during the first wave.

Scottish Labour’s health spokeswoman Monica Lennon said: “This is a catastrophe happening on our NHS wards.

“Scottish Labour has called time and again for enhanced safety measures to be put in place to protect hospital staff and patients, including routine testing and enhanced PPE, so that both Covid and non-Covid illnesses can be treated.

“During the Christmas recess, I wrote to Jeane Freeman urging her to review PPE guidance in light of the new strain of the virus.

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“Staff are fearful that basic masks and aprons are not providing enough protection. We have to assume Covid is in every part of the hospital and give staff and patients maximum protection now.

“If non-Covid healthcare cannot be safely delivered due to the virus ripping through our hospitals, more lives will be at risk and the backlog of cancelled operations and appointments will continue to soar.

“Jeane Freeman must commit to enhanced PPE and address urgent concerns about testing and vaccine rollout.”

Donald Cameron, the Scottish Conservatives’ health spokesman, added: “This significant number of hospital-acquired cases is very worrying, especially as these figures appear to predate the emergence of the new strain.

“One way to deal with this is for the SNP Government to ensure vaccines are delivered to medical staff quickly and efficiently.

“It would also be wrong for the First Minister or her officials to downplay the reality of what is happening in our hospitals.”