Fife’s hospital and GP services will reopen with “baby steps” to ensure appointments are safe for patients as covid-19 continues to affect communities.
Treatments and diagnostic tests will be re-introduced gradually but it is notclear how appointments will be managed, with health chiefs still trying to work out how social distancing will be maintained in their buildings.
The suspension of hospital visiting will also be reviewed.
NHS Fife medical director, Dr Chris McKenna, said restarting services would be a bigger challenge for staff than suspending them was.
He said new ways of working, including telephone and video consultations, would likely continue for many months, warning that coronavirus was here to stay for now.
Dr McKenna pledged that the safety of patients, staff and the public would be at the forefront of any decisions made.
Everything other than cancer treatment and emergencies was put on hold in March in line with Scottish Government instructions as resources were concentrated on dealing with the pandemic.
A “remobilisation oversight group” has now been formed to assess how the public’s health needs can begin to be met again.
“This is a bigger challenge we’re going to have to face because this new world we find ourselves in is largely defined by covid,” Dr McKenna said.
“We will look across health and social care services and take a view on when and how we remobilise services.
“We need to manage services in a different way because of the presence of covid in our society and we need to think about social distancing in hospitals and how it might impact on footfall.
“We also need to keep requirements for PPE in the back of our minds and make sure we have enough.”
“We are talking about the renewal and re-imagining of health care for the better but being mindful covid-19 is here to stay for the time being and everything we do will have to be sensitive to that.”
Director of nursing Helen Buchanan added: “We need to make sure we take baby steps to services across the piece – GPs, district nursing, acute hospitals and community hospitals.
“PPE, hand-washing and distancing will remain with us until winter anyway. Ward areas, GP practices and theatres will look different.”