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NHS Lanarkshire’s COVID-19 community assessment pathway (CAP) has reached the milestone of triaging more than 10,000 patients since it was established on 23 March 2020.

Dr Linda Findlay, Medical Director, South Lanarkshire Health and Social Care Partnership, said: “The response from staff to set up and deliver this service has been extraordinary. The pathway comprises one community triage hub and two community assessment centres.

“These were set up in little more than a week and have significantly reduced the number of patients attending GP practices, and ensured that we could care for and treat patients in the community, avoiding unnecessary demand on our Emergency Departments.”

The hub triages all telephone calls referred by NHS 24 and the assessment centres will see patients face-to-face if this is deemed appropriate after triage.

As the peak of COVID-19 has now passed, we are moving on to the recovery and redesign phase. Over recent weeks we have seen a consistent decrease in the number of patients at every point in the pathway and an increase in demand for other NHS services. 

In line with other NHS boards we have taken the decision to reduce the capacity of the pathway, while still providing a clinically safe and effective service. This means that from Monday 29 June 2020 we will move from two community assessment centres to one – this will be at the Douglas Street Clinic in Hamilton. The triage hub will remain in Airdrie, but the plan is to move this to Hamilton when the infrastructure allows. 

The layout of the building in Hamilton will allow the triage hub and assessment centre to remain separate from the rest of the services located there and patient flow is not affected. This also means that all staff are located in one area which will provide consistency and easy access to clinical expertise.

When the assessment centre is moved out of Airdrie Community Health Centre, this area can then be reinstated as services and patients start to return. The same applies to many of the staff who were deployed to these areas, they will return to their day-to-day roles and places of work. This is all moving towards returning the NHS to its ‘new normal’.

The service recovery plan takes into account the need to increase the capacity of the service in the event of a second peak of COVID-19. A system is in place to ensure this will happen as soon as possible.

Dr Findlay, added: “We would like to thank Lanarkshire residents for adhering to advice and staying at home as much as possible. This allowed us to manage our services and continue to provide safe and effective care for those who needed it most.

“It also means that we can start to move forward and plan what services will look like in the future. How we deliver services will change and we ask for your continued patience and understanding as we begin to stand services back up.”

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