THE Vale of Leven Hospital is being prepared for a second spike in Covid-19 cases in the west of Scotland and an anticipated need for more hospital capacity, according to campaigners.

Talks took place last week between NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde officials and representatives of the Hospitalwatch campaign group as health chiefs look to cope with the increase in cases in Dumbarton and the Vale and across the wider area.

Following the meeting, Hospitalwatch chair Jim Moohan said the group had challenged health board officials about the Alexandria hospital being used to its full capacity during the tougher pandemic restrictions which have been in place across West Dunbartonshire since the beginning of this month.

Mr Moohan told the Reporter: “The health board have confirmed that the hospital wards have been put in a state of preparedness and are ready for a second spike and a need for more capacity.

“That is a welcome move rather than having people shunted from the hospital to Glasgow especially when we have the availability at Alexandria.

“It takes away the pressure from the care homes and ensures that people at the hospital have got that safety and secure feeling in their families.”

Last week’s talks also covered the operation of the local rota system to staff the hospital’s GP out-of-hours service.

Mr Moohan said: “The GP’s in the area have come up with a rota to protect the West Dunbartonshire community.

“Our GP’s are not going to be hijacked to Paisley or the Queen Elizabeth.”

He told the Reporter that NHS officials have begun drafting a document to ensure that residents in Dumbarton, the Vale and the surrounding area will keep their GPs.

The area’s MSP, Jackie Baillie said: “The hospital was kept in a state of readiness during the first Covid-19 wave in case there was a need for additional capacity.

“It is sensible to have that capacity at the Vale available should we experience a second wave. Hopefully there will not need to be as many hospitalisations if restrictions are in place soon.”

A spokesperson from NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde said: “We are committed to the GP out-of-hours service at the Vale of Leven and have ensured the community continue to have access to a GP out-of-hours in the short term, as we look to implement long-term improvements to extend the service.

We are confident the new approach will improve local access to out-of-hours care at the Vale and meet the needs of the community now, and for the long-term.”