Troops from the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards at Leuchars are amongst 20,000 army personnel on standby across the UK to help with tackling the coronavirus outbreak if requested by government.
Requests for military help in Scotland come from the Scottish Government through a well-used method known as MACA – Military Aid to the Civil Authorities.
A small number of army personnel have been engaged in assisting with planning for the coronavirus hospital being set up at the SEC in Glasgow.
RAF personnel are providing support to the Scottish Ambulance Service, should they require additional airlift capacity. It’s also understood some local army reserve personnel have been mobilised this week to await potential deployment.
However, beyond that no requests have so far been made for troops to do anything other than be ready to help if required, The Courier has learned.
“Some specialists from the army reserves have volunteered to help,” an army source said. “For example, 154 Regiment Royal Logistic Corps in Dunfermline have sent 11 supply specialists to assist at a depot in Yorkshire.
“Others might be used for specialist jobs. But again, only if the Scottish Government requires.”
The source quashed rumours on social media that a coronavirus field hospital is being established on the military base at Leuchars.
Rumours were fuelled locally on Tuesday when a plane – described by one witness as a transport plane – was seen circling the base before landing.
“No field hospital is being build anywhere in Scotland,” the source said, adding that Leuchars is still an operational airfield and is often used for RAF operations.
“Military is advising on building the SEC NHS hospital facility but nowhere else, and that facility isn’t a field hospital.
“A field hospital is a military unit and that one will be staffed and run by NHS Scotland. Almost all army personnel in Scottish medical units are NHS staff and building a field hospital would take them away from their day jobs, at a time when they are critical to their day jobs, so that would be pointless.”
It was confirmed this week that Glasgow’s SEC next to the Clyde will be transformed into a temporary hospital for coronavirus patients and could accommodated up to 1,000 people if needed.
Army officials met the Scottish Government and NHS Scotland last week about taking over the conference centre, as a potential for an NHS facility run by NHS Scotland.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon confirmed on Monday that exploratory work had already taken place at the venue and it could be open to patients within two weeks.
Ms Sturgeon said: “I can confirm today that following exploratory work over last week and the weekend, we have now taken the decision to start work on turning the Scottish Exhibition Centre in Glasgow into a temporary NHS hospital.
“If needed, we expect that the hospital could become operational within a fortnight from now.
“Initially it would provide us with 300 additional beds, but ultimately, it could have capacity for more than 1,000 patients.”
Support The Courier today.
The Courier is committed to delivering quality content to our communities and right now that’s more important than ever — which is why our key content is free. However, you can support us and access premium content by subscribing to The Courier from just £5.99 a month. Because Local Matters.Subscribe