NHS Fife has set up a covid-19 assessment centre and reconfigured Victoria Hospital as part of radical plans to deal with the virus.
All routine outpatient and diagnostic appointments and most planned operations will be postponed amid an anticipated increase in the number of critically ill patients in need of hospital care.
The board said the moves would help ensure the region’s healthcare services were as resilient as they could be as pressure intensified in the coming weeks.
A number of service changes have been made to minimise the risk of coronavirus transmission in the hospital and safeguard the most vulnerable.
Chief executive Carol Potter said that while the measures may seem drastic, they were an appropriate and measured response to allow the continuation of care.
All non-urgent appointments and operations at Victoria Hospital in Kirkcaldy will be called off from March 30, although emergency and cancer surgery and planned caesarean sections will continue.
Procedures at Queen Margaret Hospital in Dunfermline will continue for the time being.
Services delivered from the diabetes centre at Victoria Hospital will cease from this Monday and the centre will be used to accommodate the new covid-19 assessment centre.
A limited diabetes service will still be offered at Queen Margaret Hospital.
Also from Monday, a primary care virtual hub will be created so that anyone calling NHS 24 will be triaged and either offered advice on self-care at home or directed to the hub, where a team of clinicians will conduct assessments by phone or video call.
Anyone requiring a face-to-dace assessment will be seen at the covid-19 centre, which will operate round the clock.
Those in need of immediate intervention will be taken directly to the Victoria Hospital for inpatient treatment.
To manage the changes, the Victoria has been split into two distinct zones.
A red zone will apply to the emergency department, critical care, infectious diseases and one medical ward, with scope to expand it if needed.
This zone will accommodate patients confirmed as having covid-19.
The remaining areas of the hospital, as well as Queen Margaret Hospital, are in the green zone.
NHS Fife has stressed there are no medicine shortages and no need to stockpile drugs or request additional prescriptions.
It warned that additional service changes are likely in the coming weeks as the response to the coronavirus changes and updates will be posted on its Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages.
NHS Fife chief executive Carol Potter said: “It’s crucial that we put the necessary measures in place to prepare our services for the significantly increased demand over the coming weeks and months.
“In any other set of circumstances, these actions would seem drastic, however with the challenges facing us, we believe this is an appropriate and measured response which enables us to continue to provide a good standard of care.
“In the face of great adversity, NHS Fife’s staff have again risen to the challenge and continue to be a credit to this organisation.
“On behalf of the executive team, I want to assure them that they have our unwavering support and our confidence that the people of Fife are in the best possible hands.
“Similarly, I want to thank the public we serve for the understanding shown over recent weeks as we sought to put these contingency measures in place.
“I want to urge them to take the very best care of themselves and their more vulnerable friends and family members and follow the advice on the NHS Inform website – nhsinform.scot/coronavirus