Aberdeen Royal Infirmary (ARI) has been operating at full capacity in recent days due to rising Covid-19 infection rates across the NHS Grampian health board region.
Both ARI and Dr Gray’s Hospital in Elgin have been placed at ‘code black’ status and non-urgent procedures are being postponed at both hospitals.
NHS Grampian is the third Scottish health board in recent days to say they are under pressue due to increasing numbers of patients and staff infected with coronavirus.
NHS Lanarkshire wrote to staff on Tuesday to announce it was considering pulling back elective care services and bringing in more workers to help “alleviate this pressure”.
The health board’s chief executive said a Gold Command meeting would be held on Thursday with the senior team looking at ways to deal with the “difficulties for staff across both acute and community services”.
All non-elective surgery has already been cancelled at Raigmore Hospital in Inverness. NHS Highland said the number of Covid-19 cases across the area has increased “significantly”, which is having an impact on services as some patients are now being admitted to hospitals.
The growing pressure on hospitals comes as a further five deaths and 3799 new cases of coronavirus were recorded in Scotland overnight.
A total of 387 people were in hospital on Tuesday with recently confirmed Covid-19, a rise of 41 overnight. Out of those, 34 patients are in intensive care.
The worsening situation at hospitals in the NHS Grampian area has been attributed to a steady increase in the number of people with the virus requiring hospital care.
The health board said it was also seeing an increasing number of staff absences, due to self-isolation, coupled with planned leave over the school holidays and higher than normal rates of non-Covid activity for the time of year.
Professor Nick Fluck, medical director at NHS Grampian, said: “This is a dynamic situation, subject to change throughout each day. I can confirm that both Aberdeen Royal Infirmary and Dr Gray’s Hospital have been at black status (at capacity) in recent days.
“Choosing to cancel procedures or appointments is never a decision we take lightly; however it is our only option if we are to relieve some of the pressure and allow staff to concentrate on the most urgent and emergency care.”
“I know it is distressing for people to have procedures or appointments postponed, sometimes at very short notice. I apologise to anyone who has been affected by this. We will work to reschedule these, but we cannot offer any guarantees at present about when this might happen.”
Jillian Evans, head of health intelligence at NHS Grampian, told Scotland Tonight on Tuesday she doesn’t believe Scotland has seen the peak of the recent wave of infections, adding that it feels as though the Scottish Government is throwing “caution to the wind” when the country is close to having population immunity through vaccination.
Scotland was named at the weekend as the Covid capital of Europe, but the Scottish Government and its advisers insist there is no cause for panic.
The country is expected to move to level zero on July 19 before a full-scale lifting of restrictions on August 9.
Professor Caroline Hiscox, chief executive of NHS Grampian said: “While we have not moved into full civil contingency mode, as we did at the start of the pandemic, we have ‘stood up’ certain measures to allow us to closely monitor activity right across the region.
“This allows us to quickly identify particular stress points and take action to relieve them. I cannot thank our staff enough for the work they are undertaking, especially in light of the very difficult experience of the last 16 months.”