Unvaccinated Fifers who fall 'very very ill’ with COVID full of regret - top doctor

People who miss or refuse their vaccinations against Covid-19 and later end up ill in hospital are "full of regret", according to a top Fife doctor.

By Jon Brady, Local Democracy Reporting Service
Monday, 23rd August 2021, 5:31 pm

Dr Chris McKenna, NHS Fife medical director, says he has treated a number of "very, very ill" unvaccinated patients for Covid who rue not getting jabbed after winding up in a bed at Kirkcaldy's Victoria Hospital.

"If I have any message it would be to get vaccinated," he told a meeting of Fife's health and social care partnership (HSCP) board on Friday [August 20].

"The people coming into hospital who are unwell are unvaccinated. If you haven't had your vaccination please go get it.

Picture Michael Gillen

"I have personally looked after a number of very, very ill unvaccinated were full of regret because it's too late to avoid the impact at that point."

Vaccination rates in Fife are roughly in line with the national picture: 90.6% and 80.4% of Fifers over 18 have been single and double-jabbed respectively.

However, vaccination rates are lower in among those aged 60-74, who are at greater risk of complications if they contract the virus.

Covid rates are continuing to rise in the days and weeks after restrictions were all-but-lifted across Scotland on August 9. The most recent data from Saturday [August 22] puts the seven-day positivity rate in Fife at 9.86% - the highest level in over a month.

Victoria Hospital, Kirkcaldy

Dr McKenna has warned that rising Covid rates, combined with hospital visits returning to and even exceeding pre-pandemic levels, will put increased demand on the Kingdom's health services.

People are also attending A&E with serious health problems that they may have neglected to act on when Covid-19 was at its peak.

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He added: "The demand increase is uniform and the impact is significant because these places are busy.

Picture Michael Gillen.

"Perhaps the perception is that some services aren't as available but to give assurance to the [HSCP] that all services are open - just very busy.

"We're working hard to ensure that A&E at Kirkcaldy is able to meet the demand that comes through. But on some days the trend is as much as 50% higher than it would have been pre-pandemic."

A&E attendances peaked at 1,394 in the week ending June 13 - the highest level of attendance since November 2019. It marked the end of the first full week after Fife entered Level 1 of Covid restrictions.

The demand has caused the rate at which people are seen in A&E to fall substantially.

For the first time in over five years, less than 80% of people were seen within a target of four hours during one week in May, and for three weeks in a row in July.

The Scottish Government expects that number to be 95%.

NHS Fife's nursing director says the health service has embarked on a recruitment drive to make up for what the board's employee director called a "dire" situation at the end of last month.

Janette Owens said the equivalent of 150 full time nurses had been recruited from a pool of freshly graduated students, and were being appointed in better paid, more senior Band 4 roles to enable them to hit the ground running.

A further 42 full time equivalent Band 5 nurses - 71 staff in all - and 55 FTE vaccinators have also been hired to help finish off Fife's vaccination programme.

In all, Ms Owens says that the number of registered nurses working for NHS Fife has grown from 3,092 in March 2020 to 3,221 as of now - which she hailed as proof recruiters were working "really hard" to both hire and retain staff.

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