In line with the Scottish Government’s response to COVID-19, a new dedicated Community Assessment Centre (CAC) has opened this week at the Linwood Health Centre to help combat the virus by providing a more streamlined service to assess people presenting symptoms.

The appointment only hub forms part of a pathway which will maximise the number of COVID-19 symptomatic people who can be cared for within the Renfrewshire community, while also ensuring hospital capacity is used for those with the most serious illnesses. The pathway reduces the exposure of patients at GP surgeries and allow GPs to focus on providing care to patients with other complex health issues.

The launch of the Eastwood CAC is part of the Scottish Government’s wider emergency operational arrangements which have established a network of COVID-19 Hubs and centres across the country. In line with the arrangements, the centres do not offer testing, which takes place in other settings and is being prioritised for key frontline staff and care workers, and for patients admitted to hospital with symptoms.

Opened solely to assess patients presenting symptoms, the centres are staffed by GPs and community nurses. Patients attending may receive treatment plans, including medication, and/or prescription, and be told to self-isolate. If they need to go to hospital, this will be arranged at the centre. Patient transport and a Home Visiting service are also being developed to support those with difficulties travelling.

As part of the patient pathway, patients should no longer phone their GPs if they are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms but refer to NHS Inform, or contact NHS 24 (111) if their symptoms worsen. If further clinical advice is required, NHS 24 will refer patients onto a clinician who will provide a full telephone assessment and if necessary, an appointment at Linwood Health Centre. Patients may still be referred directly to acute services, depending on their symptoms.

Patients will be given full instructions on where to park and how to access the centre upon receiving their appointment.

The Renfewshire hub is one of a number opening across Greater Glasgow and Clyde and will initially operate between initially operate between 10am – 6pm, Monday – Friday. A central CAC has opened on Barr Street in Glasgow – operational from 8am-10pm with a view to moving to 24/7 when necessary. Additional sites have opened in Greenock, Renton and Clydebank, and Linwood.

Dr Kerri Neylon, Deputy Medical Director for Primary Care at NHSGGC, said:

“The creation of the CACs are part of emergency operational arrangements being undertaken in line with Scottish Government plans and will provide important protection for vulnerable patients who require non- COVID-19 related care.

“The Linwood CAC’s role is to provide face-to-face consultations as part of a wider triage system which has created a streamlined route to ensure patients are assessed as quickly as possible and receive the appropriate care.

“I’d like to thank all staff across primary, community, and acute services, for their efforts in rapidly implementing this new pathway and for readily staffing the centres.

“We remind patients they should only phone NHS 24 if their symptoms worsen, and that the centres are strictly appointment only. If NHS 24 believes you need further treatment, you will get an appointment with one of our clinicians.”

By Ricky Kelly

Main writer for Renfrewshire News