MORE than £5million in extra health funding is needed to ensure East Lothian can care for victims of coronavirus.

Plans to open the top floor of the new East Lothian Community Hospital in Haddington and secure extra care home beds for those affected have been outlined by the county’s health boss.

But she warned that a failure to grant the funds would mean the plans simply not being carried out.

Alison Macdonald, chief officer of East Lothian’s health and social care partnership, said an application for £5million had been made to the Scottish Government via NHS Lothian.

She told a meeting of East Lothian’s Integration Joint Board, which oversees health and social care decisions, the funding was vital in the fight against he virus.

Mrs Macdonald said: “We have put a mobilisation plan in for extra funding and we have asked for over £5million.

“£3million relates to the top floor of the hospital and £1million will extend care home beds.

“If we do not get the money, we won’t be able to do it.”

The partnership has applied for the additional funding as emergency funds are expected to be released.

The community hospital currently has two mothballed wards which were intended for use as the population of the county grows but have already been used to ease pressure on Edinburgh’s services over the winter.

It will cost £3million to bring them back into service and staff them to help provide care for additional patients.

As well as £1m to increase care bed capacity in homes, additional funds are needed to increase bed availability by supporting continuing reductions in delayed discharges through increased discharge to assess and Hospital to Home staffing.

The partnership also needs money to support GP practices through telecoms improvements, service development and locum provision, expand Technology Enabled Care (TEC) through purchase and provision of equipment, and   relocate multidisciplinary staff teams from central bases to smaller geographical clusters.

During the IJB meeting this week, it was revealed that 2,000 former health staff and volunteers had been found to bolster care services in the Lothians following a recent advert.

Fiona Ireland, from NHS Lothian, said the first 560 of the new workers were due to undergo a virtual induction on Monday, with the rest due to follow soon.

Mrs Macdonald told the board that contact with care homes and care at home services was being carried out on an almost daily basis to ensure any problems were identified quickly.

And she said that apart from “some wobbles” this week with some care staff self-isolating, the impact on carers had to date not been a major concern.

She said concern about protective equipment was currently top of the list for independent care companies.

Mrs Macdonald said: “Rather than staffing levels, one of the concerns being raised is trying to make sure that personal protective equipment (PPE) is available through the independent sector.

“It is independently ordered and doesn’t go through us.”

Yesterday, health minister Jeane Freeman MSP said the Scottish Government had taken control of the distribution of PPE to ensure it gets where it is needed.

She said: “We are paying very close and detailed attention to the overall stock of PPE for our health and social care staff, and we have now taken over the ordering, supply and distribution of PPE to social care and care at home staff.

“As of today (Thursday) we have no shortages. We are increasing the distribution routes and networks to ensure the supplies people need get to where they are needed, including in remote and rural areas, as quickly as possible.

“The safety of our health and social care staff is of absolute critical importance, so we are taking every step we can to make sure they have the equipment they need, and we have orders in the pipeline to make sure stocks are replenished.”