Health chiefs are being called on to make use of a former private hospital in Dundee during the current coronavirus crisis.
With the recent news that NHS Tayside will discharge patients from Carseview in order to free up space for Covid-19 patients, mental health campaigners have urged the board to consider re-opening the former Fernbrae Hospital on Perth Road.
Phil Welsh, who has been campaigning for a 24/7 crisis centre since his son Lee took his own life in 2017, said it would make sense to utilise the facility, which closed in 2019.
Phil said: “As the Covid-19 crisis deepens and the news that bed space is of a premium, it could be used as Covid spillover or as a mental health unit.
“We learned that beds were being emptied at Carseview, along with other hospitals in Tayside in case they are needed to deal with this crisis.
“Dundee has an empty, but equipped, facility in Fernbrae, which is currently vacant and has been since last May.
“A spokesman for NHS Tayside previously said there was no anticipated impact on any services within NHS Tayside.
”Well there certainly is now. Let’s look to other cities who have made excellent preparations for worse-case scenarios.”
A Scottish Government spokesman said: “At present, Fernbrae Hospital is not fit for purpose, however, we continue to look at all options to increase capacity.”
He added: “We are working hard to maximise the capacity of the NHS in Scotland to meet the challenge of Covid-19.
“NHS boards have already doubled ICU capacity to 360 beds and are now working to quadruple ICU capacity to more than 700 beds, with local plans currently being implemented. We have also freed up 3,000 beds for Covid-19 patients across our NHS hospital estate.
“NHS boards have also been working to re-purpose operating theatre anaesthetic machines for use as ventilators which – as an interim measure – will allow us over the next week or so to rapidly increase capacity to more than 500 intensive care beds for Covid-19 patients.
“These measures to increase ICU beds and ventilators are adding resilience to the NHS at this challenging time. That includes both our existing estate and, as Chief Medical Officer Dr Catherine Calderwood has said, looking closely at potential locations for emergency provision.”
BMI Healthcare, who owned and ran the hospital, closed it in May 2019 claiming the number of people with private health insurance had fallen significantly.
The firm and NHS Tayside were both approached for comment.