Western General Covid outbreak: Ruth Davidson calls for effective ‘backtracing’ to pin down source of cancer ward outbreak to ensure sufficient protocols in place
NHS Lothian revealed on Friday that a “small number” of patients - fewer than five - have died after testing positive for Covid-19 and that six more have been confirmed to have the virus.
The health board confirmed the oncology ward has been closed to new admissions and discharges while investigations are conducted and to allow tests to be carried out, while contact tracing for visitors and outpatients is also being done.
NHS Lothian also said a multi-disciplinary Incident Management Team has been set up with a series of robust and enhanced infection control measures put in place in the ward.
Speaking to the Edinburgh Evening News on Friday evening, Ruth Davidson said her thoughts are with these families of those who have died, as well as the patients and staff affected.
She said: “We need to know how this Covid outbreak occurred with cancer patients but I am pleased the incident management team was set up quickly because we have to stop the virus spreading.
“Patients have the best possible care on hand in a setting with people who have experience of dealing with Covid but, of course, one of the things we know about Covid is that it’s especially dangerous to those who have underlying health conditions, so there are wider concerns for patients contacted on the ward.
“It seems as if, as soon as this outbreak was confirmed, staff have moved quickly to get an incident management team in place and this should be recognised.
“Normally, if someone gets Covid they will test and trace and speak to everyone that’s then spoken to that person but they will need to back trace here to see who these people spoke to before.
“I hope they are able to pin down the source of it and if there are any protocols in place to diminish that risk. It may be that there are some protocols needed if we can find out how it happened.”
Former SNP Depute Leader, Angus Robertson, who is running for the Edinburgh Central seat in the 2021 Scottish Parliamentary election, posted on Twitter to say: “Very sad and concerning news about the death of patients from coronavirus at Edinburgh's Western General Hospital.”
Lothian MSP Andy Wightman (Scottish Greens) shared a message on Twitter which read: “Thoughts with staff, patients and families at Western General in dealing with this tragic situation.”
Many Evening News readers reacted to the news on social media.
One, Louisa Collie, said: “Not the oncology ward. Thoughts with all those struggling with treatment and then getting hit with this.”
Margaret Bennett said: “ My husband has been in the oncology wards and he thinks the world of the staff there, our thoughts go out to everyone there. God bless.”
And Lou Taylor said: “Heartbreaking. And people are complaining because they can't go to the pub for a fortnight.”
Carole Mcmullan said: “Very sad to hear, people who take it seriously like myself are doing so to try and prevent things like this happening to good vulnerable innocent people.”
The Scottish Government has also been contacted.