The response to coronavirus (COVID-19) has been a collaborative effort which has seen workers across health and social care services work together to support those most in need. The RVB COVID Assessment Centre (located in the Royal Victoria Building at the Western General Hospital) represents this in many ways.

The COVID assessment centre at the Western General Hospital is part of a Lothian-wide community COVID service of telephone triage and face-to-face assessment for coronavirus (COVID-19).  A second City of Edinburgh assessment centre was open in April and has been stood down as activity levels reduced. Edinburgh residents can access any of the four Lothian assessment centres by appointment.

  • The team at the RVB assessment centre has been staffed from hospital outpatients departments, primary care, university and health research services who have rapidly developed an effective service.
  •  The COVID Community Pathway was quickly established and required an integrated approach from many different services and organisations across primary and secondary care including acute care, GPs, Out-of-Hours, facilities, transport, public health, finance, outpatients, the Flow Centre, strategic management, university and research personnel.
  • Patients are provided with advice and treatment at the centre but if their condition requires hospitalisation, they can be transferred immediately to the Medical Assessment Unit at the Western General Hospital.

Since opening on 23rd March, the centre has assessed over 650 patients and on Easter Monday the centre began offering a service running 24 hours a day. The expansion to 24 hours support has required excellent two-way communication, ensuring a seamless shift from the 2 day clinics to the night shift team.

The team wishes to convey thanks to everyone who has been following government guidelines to physical distance and staying at home. Your efforts are truly appreciated, and this can be seen in the numbers attending the assessment centre.

 The RVB assessment centre team


Dr Jon Miles, Consultant Physician, Western General Hospital:

‘The RVB assessment represents the very best of co-operation between Primary and Secondary Care interfaces. From the outset there was a spirit of co-operation and it became apparent very quickly that referrals into the COVID unit were appropriate and managed in a timely manner. This proved to be important as a small number of people required urgent medical attention shortly after arrival, including referral to critical care services. Overall communication and relationship building progressed extremely easily given the short timescales.’

Sharon Marshall (Senior Charge Nurse) had been working in outpatient services at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh prior to taking on the role of Senior Charge Nurse at the RVB COVID Assessment Centre: ‘We have managed to develop a really efficient process for managing the patients referred to us 24/7.’ and ‘We have been able to utilise the combined skills of this unique nursing, medical and administrative team which has incredible knowledge and experience’.

Lisa Stewart (Senior Project Manager) helped to quickly set up the assessment centre and now has operational responsibility as Service Manager. She reports ‘The centre is part of a whole-system approach to managing the large number of patients experiencing the impact of this virus, offering immediate treatment to patients as an alternative to attending their GP practice or presenting at the Emergency Department.’